When a couple in Michigan makes the choice to end a marriage, decisions have to be reached regarding many different issues. These decisions can be reached by the couple themselves, if the couple is able to effectively negotiate an out of court divorce settlement. Mediators and collaborative divorce coaches, along with attorneys who know divorce law, can provide assistance with a negotiated settlement. The other option is a litigated divorce, in which a judge makes the decisions and the spouses simply must live with what the court decided.
Among the issues that a couple must address is: what happens to property to property in a Michigan divorce? A family court judge who is asked to divide up property will follow the provisions set forth in Michigan Family Law Code Chapter 15, which sets forth the rules for property division. If a couple makes decisions on their own, they have the freedom to select a division of property that will work best for their family.
If you and your spouse can come to an agreement on property division, you will both generally wind up happier about the outcome of your divorce proceedings. If you are able to reach a consensus on your own, you can also save money during the divorce process as the negotiation of your own divorce settlement can be far cheaper and far easier than a litigated divorce proceeding.
If you and your spouse have a prenuptial agreement, this can also make it easier for you to come to a consensus on property division. The prenuptial agreement may provide details on how certain properties are to be divided among the spouses. As long as the prenup is legally valid and was not made under duress or false pretenses, the clauses in the prenup which address the division of property should be enforceable.
If a judge is the one who ends up making the decisions regarding property division, then the Michigan laws that apply to divorcing couples dictate that property is divided equitably. Equitable distribution is different than community property rules, which say everything acquired during the course of the marriage belongs to both spouses and each has a half interest in all marital property. Equitable division of property, on the other hand, means that property is to be divided up in a fair manner but not necessarily an equal manner in all situations.
In general, with equitable distribution, each spouse keeps property owned before the marriage and property divided up during the marriage is divided up in a manner that is appropriate given the contributions made by each spouse to the marriage, the length of the marriage, as well as other relevant factors the family court judge deems to be important.