If you are considering divorce or have already filed, one of your first questions will surround when to make financial decisions. After all, dividing assets after a marriage is never easy, and the process comes with many difficult questions.
Not sure how to proceed with dividing marital property? Unsure what factors the judge will keep in mind? Read more to find out.
Understanding Marital Property Is Essential
You need to learn more about marital property before you can understand how it is divided. Marital property is generally referred to as community property, and it includes assets and liabilities that were acquired during the marriage. During the divorce process, you will be asked to create a list of your community property, and the court requires that you be completely thorough.
If you have acquired gifts or property while married but that are considered just yours, you need to present evidence of this ownership to the court during the divorce proceedings if any argument exists to the contrary.
Hiding Property Is Not Legal
Failing to disclose any community property, including debts, assets, or income, during the court proceedings can land you in hot water with the judge. You may be fined punitive damages and be forced to abide by court sanctions.
The assets that you absolutely need to disclose include employee benefits (like retirement accounts), capital losses from previous tax years, and even cemetery plots. The value of these items might be higher than you expect. Surprisingly, you also need to disclose information about collections, memorabilia, club memberships, and gifts from each other.
Communication Is Crucial
Even if you and your spouse are going through a difficult time, you need to prepare to communicate, especially about your assets and income as you divide your property. One tool that may be helpful for communication is mediation.
Mediation is a beneficial step for anybody who wants some say in how to divide marital property, as it gives you more control over how you divide assets and debts as a couple.
Pets Are Property
You should understand that while many people consider their pets to be their family members, the court treats pets as property. If your divorce goes to court, the judge may consider giving the pet to the individual with a history of caring for the pet or the individual with the more flexible schedule to care for the pet.
If you want to share custody of your pets, you may benefit from mediation, in which you can create a schedule for trading your pet back and forth.
Judges Don't Consider Emotional Attachment
Simply because you are emotionally attached to an item does not mean that the court will consider it yours. The judge's main consideration is for state law. For people with many emotional attachments, mediation is a way to work together in the hopes of dividing assets according to desires.
Property Is Divided Fairly
In Michigan, the judge must divide assets following the equitable distribution principle. While property is divided fairly, this does not mean that property is divided equally. The court will consider the financial contributions of each spouse to the marriage in addition to the spouse's ability to support themselves after the divorce.
Factors the judge will consider include marriage length, property brought into the marriage, each partner's standard of living, each partner's emotional health, earning potential of each partner, and the contribution of each partner to the education of the other.
Additionally, the judge considers any children involved in the divorce proceedings. Judges try not to interfere with the lives of the children as much as possible.
Legal Counsel Is Necessary
You can never predict the way a divorce proceeding is going to go, so you need to hire legal counsel to guide you through the process. Call Bahrie Law to learn more about your options for legal counsel during your divorce. Set up a consultation so you can understand your rights.