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The distinction between marital and separate property

On Behalf of | Jun 10, 2024 | Property Division |

Managing the challenges of divorce is never easy, especially when it comes to the division of property. Thus, knowing the difference between marital and separate property is crucial because it can influence the outcome of property division. If you are in the process of getting a divorce, how can you handle property division with more confidence and clarity?

Marital versus separate property

Marital property refers to all debts and assets that a couple obtains during their marriage. This can include real estate, personal property, income and even retirement benefits. According to Michigan law, marital property is subject to division in a divorce.

On the other hand, separate property is usually not subject to division in a divorce. This includes debts and assets that are:

  • Owned before the marriage: Either spouse acquired the property before the marriage.
  • Gifts or inheritance: One spouse received the property as a gift or inheritance during the marriage.
  • Not listed as marital property: They are not mentioned as marital property in a valid prenuptial agreement.

Meanwhile, commingling happens when spouses combine marital and separate property. In such cases, the court may consider the commingled property as marital property. For example, if one spouse inherits money (separate property) and deposits it into a joint bank account (marital property), it may become commingled and subject to division.

How property division works

In Michigan, the court divides marital property through equitable distribution. This means that the court divides in a way that it deems fair but not necessarily equal.

In addition, there are several factors that determine the division of property. The court considers the length of the marriage and the contributions of each spouse to the marital estate. Another determining factor is the earning potential of each spouse.

Seeking your fair share

Understanding the process of dividing property is a critical aspect of your divorce. With legal assistance, you may know your rights and the potential outcomes as you seek to get your fair share.