When a marriage dissolves, one of the first steps in the divorce process is to divide the marital assets and debts. The process for dividing this property in Michigan is called “equitable distribution,” and it can often be a thorny, complicated process.
In some cases, the couples can reach a property settlement agreement through mediation. Prenuptial agreements or postnuptial agreements also have an effect of simplifying property division issues resulting in resolution of the case.
However, in other cases — especially divorces that involve complex asset division — a court will need to conduct a hearing before it distributes the property.
Our family lawyers have the knowledge and experience to handle cases that involve simple marital estates and the most complex estates. Our goal is to arrive at an outcome that meets our clients’ present and future needs.
Michigan Asset Division Law
A court is not required to equally distribute the marital property. Instead, it must distribute it in a “fair and just” manner.
To arrive at this division, the court will go through three steps:
- Identify the marital property: This consists of the assets and debts that were acquired during the course of the marriage and can include everything from cars and homes to stocks and professional licenses that the one spouse helped the other spouse attain.
- Valuate the marital property: This can be a complex step, especially when it comes to determining the value of a business, professional license or retirement benefits.
- Distribute the property: A court will consider several different factors in making this determination, including the duration of the marriage, contributions of each party, age and health of the parties, life status of the parties, necessities and circumstances of the parties, earning abilities of the parties, past relations and conduct of the parties and general principles of equity.
Only marital property is distributed. If a spouse brought property into the marriage and kept it isolated from the marital estate, then it is deemed to be separate property and cannot be distributed by the court.
Separate property can also include certain stock plans and stock options, retirement assets and pensions and Social Security benefits.
Contact Us Today
If you are interested in learning more about asset division in a divorce or separation, contact our asset division attorneys online today for an initial consultation about your case. We have assisted clients from throughout the state of Michigan in asset division cases, including clients from Oakland County, Troy, Novi, Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and Birmingham.