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What is martial property and why does it matter during a divorce?

Over time, couples in Michigan can acquire a lot of possessions. Those items may be high value pieces of real estate, such as family homes and vacation properties. Their possessions may include jewelry and cars, electronics and financial investments. They may buy furniture, clothing and items to use for sports and entertainment.

When individuals choose to end their marriage in divorce, they need to figure out what to do with all of the things that they own with their soon-to-be ex-partners. In Michigan, the law recognizes "equitable distribution" for marital property. That means property should be divided fairly, although not necessarily equally.

At its heart, however, equitable distribution requires property to be classified as either "martial" or "separate." Separate property is often easy to identify. It is property that individuals owned before they got married and that they did not share or comingle with their spouses. It may also include gifts or inheritances that were given only to one spouse in a marriage and that were not shared between them and their partners.

Marital property is pretty much everything else. It is the property that individuals acquire after they are married, often regardless of how it is titled or under whose name it is purchased. Marital property can include real and personal property, and can have different intrinsic values for the parties to a divorce. Oftentimes when couples divorce they choose to have their property valued so that they can properly divided it. Property division is an important part of the divorce process.

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