One issue that arises in almost every divorce case is the division of property, even in short-term marriages. All property that comes to the marriage through the efforts of either party during the marriage is generally considered marital regardless of which party may have earned the income, purchased the property or how it is titled. Separate property is generally property that the parties had before the marriage but there are many ways it can lose it's separate nature during the marriage. Marital property is generally divided equally while separate property is awarded to the party that brought the property into the marriage. If you or your spouse has considerable premarital assets and are concerned about whether the court will divide that property between you, working with your Michigan divorce attorney before you file for divorce may change how you want to proceed with the case.
Who Gets My Separate Bank Account?
There are many cases where one spouse will have a separate bank account in his or her own name that they have had since before the marriage. The question becomes whether this account should be considered separate or marital to be divided equally. In most cases, if no additional money has been deposited into the account, then that account will be considered separate and awarded to the spouse that brought the account into the marriage. If additional money has been deposited into the account during the marriage then most likely the account will be considered marital and divided equally.
A good example of how this can happen is the recent case of Carr v Carr, Michigan Court of Appeals, Unpublished Case No. 345820 (July 18, 2019). That case involved a short-term marriage of approximately two years. The husband brought three bank accounts into the marriage and had a substantial income, the wife had no assets to speak of and was not employed outside of the home. The divorce trial court awarded all three accounts to the husband because he owned all three accounts before the marriage.
The wife appealed and the appellate court reversed the decision. The husband had deposited over $60,000 worth of income into the accounts during the marriage and conducted all of his bank transactions, business and marital out of these accounts. The court held that through his actions the husband had comingled the premarital accounts with marital income and this transformed the separate property into marital property. The court then ordered the parties to equally divide the entire balance of all three accounts.
Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney for HelpDivorce cases can be complicated and property division is only one aspect of divorce. An experienced Michigan family law attorney can review your marital estate and discuss how your divorce could potentially impact your assets and your future. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding to discuss your options.