No two marriages are the same and, as a result, neither are divorces. What’s important for one couple may not be for the next and what’s simple in one divorce may be complex in another. For couples with a high net worth, this can be particularly true with respect to property division.
How property division gets complicated
Since Michigan is an equitable distribution state, one of the first things a court will seek to do during a divorce is classify all of a couple’s property as either separate property or marital property. Separate property is that which is owned by one spouse only and generally remains with that spouse. Marital property, with a few exceptions, is all assets which were acquired during the marriage. Marital property is divided equitably, or fairly, between the spouses according to many different factors.
For couples with a high net worth, this process can be complicated by the fact that they may own many assets which are more unusual in nature. Rather than having to deal just with normal assets like a home and retirement accounts, high-asset couples may have stock options, business interests, inheritances and many others. Is each of these assets separate property or marital property? Did they become commingled along the way?
Asset tracing can help find answers to these questions
Asset tracing is the process of taking a detailed look at the history of one or more assets. Its goal is to determine precisely what interest each spouse has in a particular asset, how much that interest is and when it developed. This provides clarity as to whether an asset is genuinely separate property or if it has become, to at least some extent, marital property and subject to equitable distribution.