Your divorce is pending and you want to purchase a new house. The issue you will find yourself in is whether your new house will be considered marital property or not.
WHAT DOES MICHIGAN LAW SAY?
In Michigan the law supports that property purchased during the marriage in presumed to be marital, even if acquired after separation or during a pending divorce. All homes purchased during the marriage is technically considered part of the martial estate. Consideration of the source of the funds used to acquire the property (contribution) may mean the other party is entitled to some portion of that property – or none at all.
WHAT IS THE REAL ISSUE?
The issue the court will look at is the source of the down payment made to purchase your new house. Was the down payment made with marital funds? If you are using marital funds for your down payment then the property becomes marital.
If the source of the down payment is coming from your settlement of the marital assets, then it is not likely that your spouse can argue contribution. If your down payment was from your share of the marital funds, then there is no contribution from your spouse, and you would retain the entire interest in the house. But if the down payment came from marital funds, your spouse could argue for compensation of those funds, as it was contribution of marital funds used for the down payment.
HOW DO I PROTECT MYSELF
If you must purchase a house during your divorce, play it safe and obtain a stipulated order (that will be signed by the judge) stating that the purchase of your new house will not be considered a marital asset, is not an asset to be divided in the divorce, and that your spouse has no ownership or equity interest in the property. If you are using funds from the settlement of your divorce (or are using funds that will be considered an advancement of your settlement), make sure the stipulated order details this.
If you don’t protect yourself, your spouse may have an interest in the property, claiming it as a marital asset. Once again, any property purchased during the marriage can be considered marital property. How your property is titled is not dispositive of ownership. This means that is does not matter whose name is on the deed, it can still be considered a marital asset. The name on the deed is not controlling. It is best to have a stipulated order designating your new home as your separate property before the purchase is made.
ASSET DIVISION. GRAND RAPIDS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ATTORNEY SERVING WEST MICHIGAN.
Divorce can be emotional and messy, and it’s natural for anyone going through a divorce to want to protect their financial interests. Maintaining an objective view of the situation can be difficult when you are struggling with complex emotional issues and personal tensions in your divorce. As an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer, Schmitt Law, PLLC can help you maintain control over your property in divorce, and against taking on responsibility of debt that may not be marital. We will provide detailed guidance and support throughout every step of the process. The right attorney can increase the likelihood of you securing a favorable outcome to property and debt division in your divorce.
Laurie Schmitt of Schmitt Law, PLLC has years of experience representing clients in a wide range of difficult divorce cases. We understand the financial concerns our clients often have regarding their property ownership rights and the doubts they often experience when it comes to property division in divorce. If you are seeking a divorce, contact us today to schedule a consultation. Contact Schmitt Law, PLLC online or by calling (616) 608-4634 for a consultation today.
Our office is located at 401 Hall Street SW, Suite 112D, Grand Rapids, MI 49503.