If you’re preparing to move on in life without your spouse after several years or more of marriage, you’ll soon be dealing with numerous legal documents and processes. Every state has its own laws regarding such matters. If you file a petition to divorce in a Michigan court, then you’ll want to review the state’s property division guidelines before proceedings begin.
Michigan operates under equitable property rules. Many people mistakenly think that this term (equitable) means “equal,” as in a 50/50 split. In fact, that’s not the case at all. Equitable property division simply means that the judge overseeing your divorce will determine a fair division of marital property between you and your ex.
You must know the accurate value of your marital property to divorce
Full disclosure is required by both parties in a Michigan divorce. You and your ex must list all your assets and liabilities. For tangible assets, such as a house or vehicle or land lot, an accurate valuation must occur. Since you can’t split a house in two, you must know the current market value of the house, so that the judge can determine a fair division for your property settlement.
Equitable division also includes liabilities
It’s not only assets you’re dividing when you file for a divorce in a Michigan court. Whatever debt you and your spouse incurred during marriage is also on the division table. You each will carry a share of responsibility for the debts you owe at the time of your divorce.
Do you have separately owned property?
Another issue that is relevant to equitable property division proceedings is whether you (or your spouse) have separately owned property. For example, if you received an inheritance check during marriage that was written out to you but not your spouse, then that money is not subject to division in your property settlement. You own it separately from your spouse.
In certain circumstances, however, if the value of a separately owned asset has increased because of a joint effort between you and your spouse during marriage, the increased value may be subject to division in your divorce. For instance, you might have already owned a house when you got married. If you and your spouse built an addition together, which increased the value of the home, the increased value may be considered marital property in your divorce.
Where to seek support for property division questions
What you don’t want to do is appear in court with no clue of how Michigan property division proceedings work. It’s best to seek guidance and clarification of state laws from someone with legal background in these issues. The more you know ahead of time, the better able to protect your interests you will be when a judge settles your divorce.