Is the house considered marital property?
If the house was acquired during the marriage and paid with marital funds, it is marital property. If one party is to retain the house, the house should be appraised (considering the volatility of the current market). Once the fair market value has been determined, then we subtract all mortgages and home equity loans from the value to determine the net value of the home. That net value will be divided equally between the parties. This means the person retaining the home will owe the other party one half of the net value. If the house was owned by one the parties prior to marriage, then we have an issue of “separate property”. Separate property means that one party purchased the house prior to marriage and may have a claim to the equity that was in the home at the time of the marriage. If this is the case, then it needs to be determined what the value of the home was prior to marriage, minus any mortgage on the home, to determine the net value. That net value may be given to the party before determining the true net value to be divided. As an example:
Home purchased prior to marriage
- Appraised value at time of marriage $100,000
- Mortgage at time of marriage $50,000
- Net value $50,000
The party owning the home prior to marriage would be given credit for the first $50,000.00 of equity in the home before determining what would be paid to the other party.
Of course, this example is an over-simplification, and further information would be needed before Schmitt Law, PLLC could provide legal advice about your specific case. Also see my blog “Marital Property verses Separate Property” for more information regarding this subject.
Are bank accounts considered marital property?
If the bank accounts were opened during the marriage, they are marital property. It does not matter if each party contributed equally to deposits into the account. This means the person who may have contributed more does not get a larger division of the account, as the entire balance is considered marital for the purposes of division of the account.
Are retirement accounts considered marital property?
For the purposes of this blog, I will provide a simple answer. If the money in the retirement account was acquired prior to marriage, and no other monies were deposited into the account during the marriage, the account most likely will be classified “premarital” and remain the sole account of one party. This means it will not be divided between the parties.
If the money in the retirement account was deposited into the account during the marriage, the account will be classified as marital and should be divided equally between the parties.
Note, that this is a complex subject, and should be thoroughly discussed with your attorney, as there are gray areas to this issue that will not be discussed in this specific blog. Note that this is a complex subject, and the answer provided is an over-simplification of the subject. Further information would be needed before Schmitt Law, PLLC could provide legal advice about your specific case.
Are vehicles, boats, or other recreational vehicles considered marital property?
If the vehicle was purchased during the marriage, it will be classified as marital property. The most typical scenario is that one party will retain the vehicle, the equity value* of the vehicle will be determined, and the other party will receive credit for one-half of the equity value. Another scenario is that the vehicle may be sold, and the proceeds divided equally between the parties.
If the vehicle was purchased prior to the marriage, and marital funds were not used to purchase or pay for the vehicle (or any loan), the vehicle most likely will be classified “premarital” and remain the sole property of one party. This means that not equity value will be shared with the other party.
* Equity value: the market value of a specific item, minus any loan owed on the item = equity value
Are wedding rings considered marital property?
Engagement/Wedding rings are conditioned on the marriage taking place. If you were married, then the ring is considered a gift, and does not need to be returned to the other party. If there was no marriage, then the ring must be returned. In a divorce situation, each party retains their respective engagement/wedding rings as their sole personal property.
Are pets considered marital property?
In the State of Michigan, animals are considered “personal property” for the purposes of property division. Some judges in Michigan treat dogs like any other personal property, in which case the highest bidder for the animal should win. The traditional method is simply assigning fair market value to the dog.
Some judges will consider other issues in determining the division of animals:
- Nature of the pet, i.e., companion, family pet, service animal. •
- Sentimental value of the pet to one party versus the other.
- In which party’s name is the dog registered?
- Even if the property is separate (i.e., owned by one party before the marriage) it can be transmuted into marital property through use, care, feeding, walks, etc., by the other party.
- Who purchased the animal?
- Who is the primary caretaker?
- Show receipts for veterinary care by one party.
- Show licensing records.
- Grooming receipts by one party.
- Dog training classes by one party.
- Who feeds the dog?
- Who buys things for the dog?
- Neighbors’ testimony that one party always walked the dog,
Also see my blog “Divorce “The New Custody Case – Pets!” for more information regarding this subject.
To discuss solutions with your property division issues, or any other aspect of your divorce process, contact me, Laurie Schmitt, at Schmitt Law, PLLC. I am an Attorney, Mediator, and Collaborative Divorce lawyer.