Some couples sign prenuptial agreements and therefore will have basic, straightforward divorces. They have already set terms and will have little to negotiate or litigate.
Most couples will have to invest some time and consideration into how they divide their properties. They may try collaborating or negotiating through their attorneys. If disputes persist about how to split up shared assets, the couple might then turn to mediation. Working with a neutral party can sometimes make compromise easier.
If mutual agreement is simply impossible in your case, then a Michigan family law judge will make decisions about your property and debts. What determines how judges split marital property?
State law guides the process
Michigan has an equitable distribution statute for property division purposes. The law requires that a judge try to reach a fair conclusion to the property division process. Unlike in community property states where an even split is often the ideal, judges in Michigan have to think carefully about your family’s circumstances when they decide how to split your property.
All of the property and debts you and your spouse acquired during your marriage will be part of your marital estate and subject to division. Ownership paperwork will matter less than the date of acquisition and the nature of the resources used. Items purchased with marital income are typically marital property.
Judges need information about your marital circumstances
In litigated property division proceedings, both spouses can present documentation to the courts. Financial records showing that certain property was your separate property before you got married could help.
Proof of financial misconduct, like one spouse spending lavishly on an extramarital affair, could also play a role in property division proceedings. While Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, financial misconduct during the marriage can affect the division of property, as can the length of the marriage, contributions of each spouse and their individual earning potential. Even custody arrangements can affect what a judge decides would be best for your family.
When it comes to specific assets, like a home or a vehicle, it can be difficult to predict what the court will decide. Learning more about the equitable distribution rules that apply to Michigan divorces can help you prepare for your time in family court.