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How does spousal contribution impact Michigan property division?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2022 | property division |

Property division can be a source of discord in many Michigan divorces. This is true whether the parties are in the middle of a high-asset divorce or the case is one of more modest means. Since Michigan is a state that strives for fairness in dividing property by using equitable distribution, it is important to remember certain facts when the case gets underway. That includes how the property is split and what happens if one party claims to have contributed greatly to various aspects of that property.

Dividing property in a divorce

People frequently misinterpret equitable to mean “equal.” In practice, the goal is to achieve a result that is considered reasonable and fair. That does not necessarily result with the property being split in half. For some, contributions were made to acquire the property, increase its value or accumulate value. That will be considered based on the law when it is divided. If a person enters a marriage owning a certain property or debt, it belongs to them even after the marriage. If property was acquired after the marriage, it is generally marital property and will be divided as such. An example would be a marital home that was purchased after the marriage.

Still, if a person owned a property and it rose in value during the marriage, then this increase in value could be shared as part of the divorce settlement. Perhaps a person had started a business prior to the marriage. If the non-owning spouse contributed to its improvement and increase in value through working there, helping the other spouse gain education and experience through financial contributions or via other means, then the court will try to forge a fair resolution. If that means that the non-owning spouse is awarded some of the property or even all of it, then this is what the court will do.

How can I be protected throughout the divorce process?

Whether it is a person who had the property beforehand and wants to ensure that it remains theirs or the other spouse claims to have contributed to it becoming more valuable, it is important to have guidance with the entire process of property division amid a divorce. Some cases can be negotiated. Others are more contentious and complex and must go to court. Regardless, it is wise to have help from the beginning to achieve an acceptable outcome.