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What happens to marital property during a Michigan gray divorce?

On Behalf of | Aug 2, 2023 | family law and divorce | 0 comments

Michigan’s no-fault divorce laws allow those who are unhappy with their marriages to end them even when they don’t “have cause.” The person filing only needs to confirm that the relationship has suffered significant damage that the couple cannot reasonably expect to overcome.

People of all ages might decide to file for divorce, possibly even after many years of marriage. In recent years, gray divorces have become some of the most common filings across Michigan and the United States as a whole. During gray divorces, couples over the age of 50 and with decades of marital experience behind them decide that divorce is better than spending their golden years together. =

Oftentimes, those contemplating a gray divorce understandably worry about the financial implications of ending a marriage so late in life.

The same equitable distribution rules apply to all divorces

There are generally two approaches to property division in a Michigan divorce case. A couple can either agree to terms that they believe are appropriate, or they can litigate. When people rely on a judge to divide their property, the state’s equitable distribution statute guides the judges they decide who will keep what property.

Judges consider the age of the spouses and the length of the marriage, as well as the future career prospects of both spouses and their separate property when deciding what would be a reasonable way to divide their assets. Property division rules remain the same regardless, but divorces that occur later in life typically tend to have much larger pools of marital assets.

Spouses may also become more emotional about the prospect of property division because they worry about the direct impact it will have on their security during their retirement years. Even retirement savings and pensions held in the name of only one spouse will likely be at least partially marital property and subject to division in the divorce proceedings. In fact, there are even rules that allow lower-earning spouses to enhance their Social Security benefits after a divorce by making a claim based on their former spouse’s contributions. Such claims will not diminish what the higher-earning spouse will receive.

Overall, the focus during property division matters will be on a fair outcome when splitting assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Understanding what usually happens during the property division process during a gray divorce may help people set more informed goals and increase their chances of reaching an amicable settlement without litigating.