How Property is Divided in a Divorce
In addition to the marital home, bank accounts, savings, cars and other personal property, and debt acquired during the marriage are marital property and will be split between the parties. Also subject to division by the Court are assets such as 401Ks and pensions. The general rule is that the spouse is entitled to ½ of the portion of the 401K or pension that accrued (was built up) during the course of the marriage.
Additionally, in some situations, a trial court may “invade” one spouse’s separate property and order that it be split, if it is deemed necessary to provide for the adequate post-divorce support of the other spouse!
What Happens to an Inheritance in a Divorce
Inheritances are also generally considered to be the separate property of the spouse who received the inheritance. However, if the inheritance is ‘merged’ into the marital estate (such as put in a joint bank account and used to pay household bills) it may also have to be divided between the spouses.
Factors considered by Michigan Courts in dividing marital assets:
- The parties’ past relations and conduct;
- The duration of the marriage;
- The source of property;
- The parties’ contribution towards its acquisition;
- The needs of the parties;
- The parties’ earning ability;
- The cause for divorce;
- The age of the parties;
- The parties’ health or disabilities (if any);
- The parties’ life status;
- Necessities and circumstances of the parties;
- General principles of equity (fairness); and,
- Additional factors deemed relevant to a particular case.
As you can see, the division of property (and debts) is not a clear cut formula, but one that gives the Court considerable leeway to rule in favor of either party. For this reason it is essential that you have an aggressive and experienced family law attorney, who understands Michigan divorce law, fighting to protect your interests.