Divorcing when there are no minor children certainly should be easier than couples who must address custody, parenting time, and child support. However, even when there are no issues regarding children to discuss, couples still must address the touchy subject of money. And discussions surrounding money are never easy.
The three biggest concerns that couples with no children must address are spousal support, division of assets, and separate property. And addressing these concerns can lead to challenges for couples.
Below are the three biggest financial concerns that couple must address when divorcing without children:
1. SPOUSAL SUPPORT:
Many factors are considered by the court as relevant in determining whether spousal support should be awarded. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the amount and length of time spousal support will be paid, the issue must be decided by the judge. If the issue of spousal support must be adjudicated, the court will look to the following factors is deciding on amount and duration of a spousal support award: (1) the past relations and conduct of the parties, (2) the length of the marriage, (3) the ability of the parties to work, (4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties, (5) the age of the parties, (6) the ability of the parties to work, (7) the present situation of the parties, (8) the needs of the parties, (9) the prior standard of living of the parties, (10) general principles of equity.
2. DIVISION OF ASSETS:
Think of it this way, everything is considered a marital asset until it’s proven otherwise. This includes all real property, personal property, vehicles, recreational vehicles, boats, retirement accounts, 401K’s, IRA’s, stocks, bonds, and the list goes on. If you own it, it’s a marital asset until one party shows the court otherwise. And the basic rule: the marital estate is divided between the parties (fairly, not necessarily equally).
3. SEPARATE PROPERTY ISSUES:
Courts distinguish between marital property and separate property, with separate property being property acquired before the parties married, and marital property being property acquired during the marriage. Michigan has adopted a doctrine called the doctrine of non-invasion of separate property. As a general rule, separate property (before marriage) is awarded to the party who owned the property prior to marriage, unless the other party substantially contributed to its acquisition or appreciation or the estate is otherwise insufficient. (For example, if you purchased your home before marriage, the increase in value of the property during the marriage will often be considered marital.)
However, Michigan law allows the trial court to invade the separate assets of a party under two distinct exceptions: First, “if the estate and effects awarded to either party are insufficient for the suitable support and maintenance of either party” and second, “if it appears from the evidence in the case that the party contributed to the acquisition, improvement, or accumulation of the property.” Even if separate property of one party is awarded to the other spouse, the ultimate property division is to be fair and equitable under all of the circumstances of the case.
CONTACT AN EXPERIENCED DIVORCE ATTORNEY IN GRAND RAPIDS, MI
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 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 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.