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Basics of property division in Michigan divorce

In some instances, marriages do not last, and couples are better off separate from each other. A major part of the divorce process is the separation of assets.

When someone is going through a divorce or considering one, it is important to understand the various aspects of the process. There are a few basics to know about property division in a Michigan divorce.

Marital property

Most assets that individuals acquire during the course of a marriage become marital property. The courts look at the property as a whole and then divide it amongst the two parties. There are a few exceptions where acquired property does not become marital property, such as individuals receiving inheritances or pain and suffering awards for personal injury claims. In such cases, the funds are intended for individual use, and the courts usually count them as separate.

Separate property

In general, assets that an individual collects before the marriage are separate property, along with the few property exceptions during the marriage. However, there are instances where the general rules do not apply. According to Michigan law section 552.401, if a spouse helps to acquire, enhance or improve a property that the other spouse owns separately, the courts may award a portion of the separate property to the spouse. Another instance is if the court deems that a spouse will not be able to survive off their portion of the split marital assets alone. Though possible, these situations are not the most common.


The commingling of funds is the most consistent way that separate property becomes marital property. For instance, if a couple shares a bank account and a spouse deposits an inheritance award in the account, the funds could become marital property. Considering this, it may be beneficial for parties to keep the separate property in personal accounts.

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