During your marriage, you share basically everything with your spouse. Your cohabitation and co-ownership arrangements will end with your marriage.
It can be difficult to think about divorce in part because it is so hard to predict what will happen with your property. Unless you and your ex have a marital agreement, there is very little certainty about what will happen to your assets and debt in a divorce.
Whether you litigate the division of your property or try to negotiate a settlement with your spouse, you need to understand how the Michigan family courts will divide your property to make rational choices and set realistic goals.
Michigan is not a community property state
There are different rules about property in every state, and community property is arguably the system most people have learned about at some point in their lives. The community property approach requires that spouses treat everything acquired during the marriage as marital property and attempt to divide those assets and debts in half. When people talk about a 50/50 split, they often mean a community property rule for property division.
Michigan does not use the community property standard. Instead, the goal is the equitable or fair division of your property. Your personal financial situation and even the length of your marriage can influence what a judge thinks is equitable for your family.
Your marital estate is subject to division and includes everything you’ve acquired during the marriage. Even retirement accounts and assets owned by only one spouse can be part of the marital estate. Only property owned prior to the marriage, inherited or declared as separate property in a marital agreement is exempt from property division in a divorce.
Understanding the standard can help you negotiate the settlement
Setting unattainable goals in a divorce can make the process more frustrating and expensive than it otherwise needs to be. When you understand the way the courts will approach your property, you may find it easier to compromise with your ex as you attempt to negotiate a settlement about how you share the debts and property acquired during your marriage.
Learning about the rules that govern divorce proceedings in Michigan can help you plan to better protect yourself.