When a married couple in Michigan or elsewhere determines that their relationship is no longer viable, they are undoubtedly faced with numerous decisions about their future. For those who decide to divorce, especially if they are parents, there are several high priority issues to resolve, including child custody matters and property division issues. If a spouse heads to court with little to no knowledge about state laws, real property versus personal property, and other family law issues, it can make for a highly stressful situation.

On the other hand, seeking clarification ahead of time of state laws that govern such issues can help alleviate stress and lay the groundwork for achieving a fair and satisfactory settlement. Michigan is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property will be fairly divided between spouses, although not necessarily in a 50/50 split. The court must approve or make decisions regarding real property, which includes residential or vacation homes, undeveloped land and business properties.

Property division proceedings also include personal property, such as jewelry, home furnishings, collections of artwork, stamps, coins or other items, and recreational vehicles, such as boats or ATVs. In addition to properties, financial assets also significantly impact property division proceedings. Besides cash on hand, such assets may also include IRAs, stocks and bonds or retirement accounts. If one or both spouses have assets from a sole proprietorship or business partnership, this may also come into play when the judge overseeing a divorce is deciding which spouse gets what.

If a Michigan couple signed a prenuptial agreement before their wedding day, there may be terms in that contract that influence property division decisions. Other matters, as well, such as an inheritance designated for one spouse only, may affect a property settlement. To keep stress to a minimum and to ensure that financial interests are being protected, it is a good idea to seek guidance and support from an experienced family law attorney before heading to court.