Law Offices of Lisa Stern
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Marital vs. separate property: What is the difference?

When you file wish to terminate your marriage in Michigan, there are a number of factors that must be negotiated and put in the divorce settlement. Property division may be one the most difficult topics to cover, as people become attached to items they accumulate during their marriage. It is crucial to understand the differences between marital and separate property, however, to ensure people receive what is rightfully theirs in the divorce settlement.

Marital property consists of more than just the home, vehicles and furniture. Almost everything that the couple amassed during the course of the marriage can be considered marital. This includes term life insurance policies, stock, pensions, 401k plans and other accounts. Furthermore, expensive collections, such as cars, antiques, coins, art and horses are considered marital property. Gifts that are exchanged between you and your spouse, as well as country club and golf course memberships are also marital property. Some other lesser-known marital assets include lottery ticket winnings, copyrights, patents, travel mileage points and tax refunds. All marital property may be divided according to the discretion of the judge presiding over the case.

Separate property, on the other hand, is not eligible for division in a divorce settlement. For example, if you hold a title to a piece of property you received prior to the marriage, and the title remains in just your name, it cannot be divided. Gifts that were given to you by a third-party before, during or after the divorce, as well as inheritance money is also separate property.

This information is intended to educate and should not be taken as legal advice. 

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