Marital Property vs. Separate Property – What’s the Difference? Grand Rapids Divorce Lawyer Explains

On Behalf of | Jun 2, 2016 | Property Division |

Divorce Signpost Meaning Custody Split Assets And Lawyers

Although ending a marriage is certainly an emotional endeavor, it comes with a long list of financial considerations. In addition to potential child custody and spousal support, divorcing spouses will have to divide assets. Before you divide property, you will have to identify which assets are “marital” and which are “separate.” Marital assets are usually acquired while the couple is married. In most cases, though, inheritance and gifts do not count as marital property – even if they were acquired during the marriage. If you earned an asset during the marriage but you receive it after the divorce, it still counts as marital property. Marital property can be tangible or intangible. Examples include:

  • Cars;
  • Homes;
  • Jewelry;
  • Future retirement benefits;
  • Stock options;
  • And cash.

Separate property refers to inheritance, gifts and items that belonged to each spouse before getting married. Michigan courts have the authority to divide marital assets, but in most cases, they cannot divide separate assets. Asset division can be a legally complex process – especially in high net worth divorces. If you are facing divorce in Michigan, contact Gordon & Hess, PLC. Brian E. Gordon is a Grand Rapids family law attorney who can protect your interests. He can help you avoid mistakes that could threaten your finances. The attorneys at Gordon & Hess, PLC are state-approved mediators. Call 616-369-7452 to schedule a free half-hour consultation. You can also visit to learn more about divorce proceedings in Michigan. Here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about asset division:

  1. What factors can influence asset division?

There are several factors that the judge will consider when dividing property. These include:

  • Each spouse’s health and age;
  • The amount of time you and your ex were married;
  • You and your ex’s abilities to earn income;
  • Each spouse’s contribution to the marital estate;
  • And each spouse’s financial circumstances.
  1. Will my ex get half of my inheritance?

In most cases, inheritance is a separate asset, so the court will not divide it between spouses. However, if you do something to change the inheritance from a separate asset to a marital asset, then it may be divided. This can happen if you put your inheritance in your spouse’s name, or if he or she assisted with its accumulation during your marriage.

  1. Will each spouse receive half the assets?

Spouses do not necessarily receive half the assets. Michigan is not a community property state, so the court may award you or your spouse less than half of the marital assets depending on what seems equitable and fair, as The Institute of Continuing Legal Education explains. Also, you are not entitled to a portion of your spouse’s separate assets. If you have questions about asset division, child custody, spousal support, or other family law matters in Michigan, contact Gordon & Hess, PLC. Our attorneys have been representing clients throughout west Michigan for more than 30 combined years. Schedule a free initial consultation with a Grand Rapids divorce lawyer by calling 616-369-7452.