Property Division in Divorce
When you’re divorcing, especially after a long marriage, it may feel as if you’re dismantling your lives. One of the most complex aspects of that process is dividing marital property. A fair property division agreement or order may be critical to your financial stability after divorce. At the same time, certain property triggers emotional responses or raises practical problems. The family home, for example, may be the couple’s most significant asset, but may also be the only home the children have ever known.
The Family Law attorneys at Sharp & Associates Law Firm understand both the emotional and practical considerations and will work with you to find the best solution possible under Michigan law. They will also ensure that all relevant property is accounted for, arrange for valuations where necessary and analyze your debts and assets to ensure that all property is accounted for and properly valued.
If you’re considering filing for divorce or have been served with divorce papers, schedule a free consultation right away. The optimal time to begin inventorying your property is before your divorce case is filed or, if the case is already underway, as soon as possible.
Just call 269-978-6560.
Equitable Division of Property
The general rule for allocation of property in Michigan is “equitable division.” This tends toward a 50-50 split, but “equitable” doesn’t necessarily mean equal. There are many circumstances under which a judge might determine that an uneven split was more equitable in a particular case. Some of the most common factors considered in determining equitable division include the earning capacity of each spouse, the needs of the parties, the needs of any minor children of the parties and the source of the property.
What is Marital Property?
In most cases, the court will divide only marital property. In simplest terms, marital property refers to property acquired during the marriage. Thus, one of the first tasks required in negotiating a property settlement or preparing to argue property division in court will be to determine which assets are rightly categorized as marital property and which are separate property.
Separate property most commonly means property that one spouse or the other owner prior to the marriage. However, certain other types of property may be classified as separate. For instance, an inheritance received by one spouse may be considered separate property, as may property that was acquired after separation or filing of the divorce petition.
Identifying Separate Property
Of course, after many years of marriage it may be difficult to separate out property owned by one spouse prior to the marriage from property acquired after the fact. For example, the wife may have come into the marriage with a car, then sold the car after the wedding and purchased another one with the proceeds. The car itself was acquired during the marriage, but it traces directly back to an asset the wife possessed before marriage.
The analysis become even more complicated when an asset that predates the marriage is absorbed into a larger joint asset. For example, if the wife in the scenario above had not purchased another vehicle with the proceeds of the sale, but instead combined those funds with marital funds to put a down payment on a house the couple then made payments on during the marriage.
These intricacies are one reason that it pays to have an experienced divorce lawyer in your corner from the beginning, helping to inventory, value and trace the origins of your property.
Work with a Skilled Divorce Lawyer to Protect Your Property
When you work with our firm, we’ll arrange for any investigation or valuation necessary to ensure that your property rights are protected. We know that dividing property in a divorce can be stressful and confusing, and we’re here to help every step of the way.
Call 269-978-6560 to schedule your free consultation.