Experienced Divorce Attorneys Serving West Michigan
For many couples, one of the most highly-contentious aspects of the divorce process involves dividing their joint assets. In Michigan, spouses’ marital assets are subject to “equitable distribution,” which requires a fair – but not necessarily exactly equal – division of property. At Kraayeveld Law, we know the law and how to help our clients protect the assets that matter most, whether that means negotiating a settlement or fighting to secure their desired property rights in court.
“Separate” vs. “Marital” Property
When addressing the division of assets during a divorce in the absence of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, one of the first steps is to properly classify all assets as either “separate” or “marital” property. This classification is critical, as marital assets are subject to division while separate assets are usually not.
As a general rule, assets acquired prior to the marriage qualify as separate, as do assets that one spouse acquires during the marriage through either gift or inheritance and are kept separate. Everything else is marital property. But, there are exceptions, and commingling and appreciation of separate assets are among the most common issues that lead to disputes during the divorce process.
Factors for Dividing Assets in a Michigan Divorce
In order to determine what is “equitable,” Michigan law examines a laundry list of factors relating to the spouses’ financial circumstances and their financial and non-financial contributions during the marriage. While divorcing spouses have a significant amount of flexibility to divide their marital assets on mutually-agreeable terms, in most cases, these factors should guide the spouses’ negotiations and decision-making:
- The length of the marriage
- Each spouse’s contributions to the marital estate
- The spouses’ respective ages, health conditions and life status
- The spouses’ respective financial needs and circumstances
- The spouses’ respective earning capacities
- Each spouse’s conduct during the marriage
- General principles of equity and fairness
Complex Asset Division Issues in High-Net Worth Divorces
Certain types of assets are more difficult to divide than others. For business owners, investors, licensed professionals, and other high-net-worth individuals, ensuring an equitable distribution often requires multiple valuations, strategizing to maintain sole ownership of key assets, and careful assessment of debt and tax-related considerations. At Kraayeveld Law, we have significant experience representing spouses in high asset divorces, and our divorce attorneys routinely advise clients with regard to matters such as:
- Business continuation and valuation
- Valuation of complex assets
- Alimony or spousal support in high-income situations
- Retirement and investment assets
- Hidden or squandered assets
- Personal property valuations
In practice, while some assets get divided, the process of dividing a marital estate often involves each spouse giving up rights to certain assets in exchange for rights to others. Whether you want to protect your business, continue living in your current residence, or secure a portion of your spouse’s retirement savings, we can help you achieve the outcome you desire.
Contact Us to Discuss Your Divorce
If you would like more information about protecting assets in your divorce, please contact us to schedule a confidential initial consultation. To speak with a divorce lawyer at our family law offices in Grand Rapids, MI, call us at 616-285-0808 or inquire online today.