187 South Old Woodward Avenue
Suite 250
Birmingham, Michigan 48009
Call Today (248) 540-3800
Divorce / Family Law Specialists
Ronald J. Bajorek
& Associates

Property Division

Frequently Asked Questions:

During my marriage, I bought my spouse jewelry and other expensive gifts.  Can I count the value of these gifts in the property division?
Generally, no.  Gifts that spouses make to one another are, in the eyes of the law, intended to bestow separate ownership in the recipient.  This includes wedding rings.  However, if the value of such gifts to one spouse is inordinately high compared to the gifts to the other, or to the value of the total marital estate, then arguably it should be counted.

During my marriage, I inherited money and property.  Can my spouse get any part of it?

It depends.  If you kept the money in a separate bank account and you did not add your spouse’s name to the account, nor did you commingle any marital monies in the account or removed the money and invested in a self-managed account, then your spouse should have no claim to it.  Regarding property, as long as you did not add your spouse’s name to the title (i.e. real estate, automobile, boat) or you did not sell the property and commingle the proceeds in any marital accounts or in any self-managed investment accounts, then once again, your spouse should have no claim to it. 

My marital home has dropped in value to the extent that it is now “underwater”.  How is this property to be divided?

It is increasingly more common that marital homes are liabilities rather than assets.  In such a case, the home can either be retained by a party who would assume payment of the mortgage, taxes, insurance and utilities on the house (in which case the non-retaining party would have his name removed from the mortgage), or the house must be listed as a “short sale” with an agreement worked out between the parties how to apportion the liability of the mortgage payments during the sale process.  The other alternative is, of course, an agreement to allow the property to go through foreclosure, in which case both parties would deal with the consequences to their credit ratings.

Achieving a successful division of your property is the primary purpose and reason why you should have an experienced attorney on your side.  With literally all of your property that you have worked for over the years at risk, you cannot afford to do any less.

CALL FOR YOUR FREE CONSULTATION
OR TO SCHEDULED AN APPOINTMENT
(248) 540-3800

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In Michigan property division normally is a 50/50 proposition.  However, there are numerous legal factors where one party may be awarded a much greater portion of the property than the other as follows:

Length of Marriage
One factor is the length of the marriage.  In the case of a short-term marriage (a few years or less), the court will normally restore whatever property each party brought into the marriage.  Any property jointly purchased or acquired during the marriage would be divided equally.  In cases of very short-term marriages, wedding gifts would be awarded to the party whose family gifted them. 

PreMarital Property

Even in cases of long-term marriages, the property that one party brought into the marriage may be returned to such party as “premarital property”.  In Michigan if one party owned an asset prior to the marriage and did not manage or commingle or add the spouse’s name, then it is generally returned (awarded) to the originating party.

Fault

Although Michigan is a “no-fault” divorce state, nevertheless, the court looks to the fault of the parties in dividing marital property.  This normally involves cases of extramarital relationships,  waste or gambling away of marital money, criminal activities or domestic violence.  General incompatibility, even if it rises to the level of arguing and hurt feelings, does not qualify.  Even with proof of fault as mentioned, Michigan courts do not stray from the 50/50 standard greater than a 60/40 split. 

Needs

If the result of a 50/50 property division would be inadequate to meet the needs of a party, the court is authorized to award the needy party a greater portion of property to prevent injustice or an unfair result.


Ronald J. Bajorek
187 South Old Woodward Avenue
Suite 250
Birmingham, Michigan 48009 48009 48009 48009 4800 48009 48009
Call Today (248) 540-3800
Located in the historic Birmingham Theatre Office Building 1 block south of Maple, in the heart of downtown Birmingham.

Providing comprehensive divorce representation throughout Michigan including cities of Bloomfield Hills, Birmingham, West Bloomfield, Franklin, Bingham Farms, Beverly Hills, Huntington Woods, Troy, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Novi, Southfield, Royal Oak, Farmington Hills, Clarkston, Livonia, Canton, Plymouth, Northville, Commerce, Milford, Brighton, Grosse Pointe, Sterling Heights, Bloomfield Twp., Shelby Twp., Macomb, Ann Arbor, Lake Orion, Oakland County, Wayne County, Macomb County, Washtenaw County and Livingston County among others.

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