Separation of Property in a Michigan Divorce Case

Close up of the word 'divorce' in a dictionary, and two wedding rings on the pagePeople often acquire property before their marriage. They work hard to earn it, and later, they find someone to settle down with. Things seem great, but then the marriage doesn’t go as planned.

Now a divorce is underway. To top it off, the other spouse is trying to claim part of the premarital property as their own. Can they do that? 

What Does Michigan Law Say About Property Division?

Michigan law generally allows a person to keep property if it is “separate property.” Separate property is typically acquired before marriage or inherited during the marriage, but kept separately. It is not divided in a divorce, unless there are special circumstances.  

Separate property could also be an inheritance or a gift intended only for a certain spouse and kept separate throughout the marriage. An array of other assets can also be considered separate property. 

Some of the examples include awards a person received for pain and suffering (such as in a car accident) or the amount by which an asset grows in value (such as stock), so long as that the other spouse did not contribute to the growth or appreciation of the asset. However, Michigan law can be very complex and goes further than just a mere definition of separate property.

Issues That Could Affect Your Asset Division

Many different factors could alter the outcome of your case. The issues of premarital property, postmarital property, joint property and separate property are complex.

They sometimes fall into the area of being gray, rather than black and white. In those cases, having the right divorce attorney can be critical to the outcome of the case.  

Michigan’s standard for property separation was originally set by a 1997 case, Reeves v. Reeves. The case was able to define the special circumstances for property division using two tests: the “contribution test” and the “insufficiency test.” Even now, the Reeves case is often cited by family law attorneys to advocate for their client’s position. 

Both tests were based on Michigan divorce statutes. The tests allowed for a person to share in the spouse’s “separate” property if he or she “contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property,” or if a spouse’s share of the marital assets is “insufficient for the suitable support and maintenance,” of themselves and any children in his or her care.

What You Should do to Prepare for a Divorce

If you are considering divorce, it is important to keep track of your assets, as well as your spouse’s. Keeping track of all assets and how and when they were acquired will greatly help our divorce attorneys understand how your property will be legally classified in your case.

A spiral of dollar billsYou should also consider making lists of debts. Doing this will help our divorce attorneys get a good idea of what the other spouse might request in the divorce settlement. 

Like most other issues in Michigan divorce law, this is not a black and white issue. In fact, it is mostly gray. That means that the facts, along with creative lawyering, will play an important part in dividing the marital estate.

This is why a creative and knowledgeable divorce attorney is so important for a successful outcome. Here at The Kronzek Firm, more than 95% of our divorce cases are settled without a trial. That means they are settled without our clients being subjected to the emotional and financial expense of a complex trial in front of a judge. 

The Kronzek Firm Can Help You With Every Aspect of Your Divorce

Every divorce case is different and will require its own specific analysis. Because of this, you need experienced lawyers who understand how Michigan divorce and property law work. The Kronzek Firm family law attorneys have decades of experience helping hundreds of spouses come to a successful divorce settlement, mostly without need for a trial.

Over the years we have helped countless individuals in Ingham County, Eaton County, Barry County, Clinton County, Livingston County, Ionia County, Jackson County, and throughout Mid-Michigan. If you are considering a divorce or a legal separation, call The Kronzek Firm today at (517) 886-1000.