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Child custody and its potential effect on property division

Michigan, like most states, uses an approach to property division referred to as equitable distribution. What this means is that marital property, rather than being divided evenly between parties, is divided in a way that is fair according to the circumstances of the case. In some cases, this may mean equal division, but not always.

State law has identified various factors Michigan courts should take into consideration when dividing marital property. These include things like the length of the marriage, the needs of the parties, the earning power of the parties, and the cause of the divorce. Among these factors is also the needs of the children. In other words, the children can end up influencing where property goes. 

Because the needs of the children can influence how property is divided, a party who ends up taking primary custody of the children may end up taking more property than the noncustodial party, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. For example, it may be determined that the parent who is given primary custody of the children should take the family home if that is in the best interest of the children. This isn’t necessarily always going to be the case, but a court may find that this is the best outcome under the circumstances.

In addition, child custody can also affect the way the other party’s separate property is handled. Under Michigan law, courts may award a just and reasonable share of one spouse’s separate property to the other party if it is determined that the marital property that party was awarded to the other party is not sufficient to support either him or her or the children in his or her custody.

In our next post, we’ll say a bit more about this issue. 

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Child custody and its potential effect on property division | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC