What’s Yours Is Mine: Marital and Separate Property in Michigan

When two Michigan high school sweethearts get married a few years after graduation, they typically don’t come into the marriage with mansions, hundreds of thousands of dollars, or significant assets of any kind. Instead, most people enter into marriage with few assets of their own. (If your last name is Bezos, Musk or Ilich, you can disregard that last comment.) Once married, a couple will often work to build wealth together.

Difference Between “Marital Property” and “Separate Property”

“Marital property” is a legal term in Michigan. It typically refers to all property acquired or earned during the marriage. 

“Separate property” refers to any property or assets that an individual had prior to the marriage as well as any gift or inheritance that they received.

As with most things in family law, there are exceptions to these definitions. Very little is black and white in Michigan divorce law. Judges in Michigan’s family courts are allowed to divide even separate property between the spouses in certain cases.

Why Does It Matter Whether Property is “Marital” or “Separate”

It doesn’t matter if you are in Oakland County, Bloomfield, Novi, Waterford, Troy, or Birmingham, all of Michigan is an “equitable division” state. That means that “marital property” as defined above may be split by the courts in a divorce in a way that is “fair” to both parties. In other words, the property isn’t necessarily split based on who personally purchased an asset. Further, the property isn’t always split 50-50. 

Why Don’t Michigan Courts Always Split Property 50-50 in Divorce?

Typically, in marriage, a couple will share funds, assets, and expenses. Upon divorce, one spouse may be sole or primary provider for the children. Then, a court may award the marital home and the significant assets to the parent caretaking the children. Similarly, if there is one spouse that has family ties to a particular property, the court might choose to award that property solely to that spouse. 

Sometimes, the “fair” or “equitable” thing to do would be to split marital property 50-50. Other times, one spouse will get more than the other depending on the court’s analysis. A skilled divorce attorney can help you determine which property is likely to be your own and which property may be split by a court to your benefit. 

The Kronzek Firm can help you with your divorce and marital property questions!

Our skilled divorce law team is here to help you. If you are searching for expert legal advice, our firm has represented hundreds of people in Michigan in their divorces. To set up your free consultation today, call  248-479-6200. We’re available 24/7, including nights and weekends for crisis intervention. WE’VE BEEN HELPING OUR CLIENTS WITH DIVORCE CASES SINCE THE LAST CENTURY.