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Divorce Archives

Michigan Divorce Bills Seek Radical Change in Marital Property

Two proposed pieces of Michigan legislation aim to create a dramatic shift in the distribution of assets for divorces where a spouse owns a business that prospers during the marriage. Presently, the law treats the growth or appreciation of a business occurring during the marriage as marital property, resulting in a 50/50 split between the spouses. The new law proposes a complete policy change and would generally classify appreciation in the business during the marriage as property of the spouse owning the business.

Rural Divorce Rate Increasing in Michigan and Elsewhere

A recent New York Times article exposed one important trend revealed by recent U.S. census data: the difference in divorce rates between rural and urban America has essentially disappeared. In 1970, the number of divorced individuals per 1,000 married people was considerable higher in metro areas (nearly 60 per 1,000) than non-metro areas (just over 40 per 1,000). Data from 2009 show for the first time that those numbers are equal, and the rate has exceeded 200 divorcees per 1,000 married individuals nationwide.

Help! My House is Underwater and I Can't Swim!

Given the downward spiral of real estate values during the past 5-8 years, more couples divorcing today are faced with the very real problem of what to do with a house that is worth less than what is owed on it. There are no easy answers, but there is help available. On July 5, 2009, Public Act No. 29 was enacted to help homeowners facing financial difficulties keep their homes. The Loan modification laws found at MCL 600.3205a require banks to consider modifying a mortgage prior to initiating the foreclosure process. Another good source for help with credit problems in general is

Don't Co-Mingle What you had When Single

In Zuidgeest v Zuidgeest, an unpublished case decided by the Court of Appeals on February 1, 2011, the higher court reversed the trial court's property award to the wife. The husband owned a house and business interests prior to marriage. Wife moved in with husband and paid half the utilities and expenses and then they married a few years later. Husband subsequently sold the house and deposited the proceeds of the sale into a joint bank account. These monies were later used to purchase the marital home. Husband also sold his business interests and deposited those monies into the joint account. The trial court determined that the proceeds of the sale from the first house and the business were husband's sole and separate property. It then awarded husband the marital home, and awarded wife a lump sum of money to compensate for her marital interest in the house. The trial court deducted the value of the net proceeds from the sale of husband's separate property. The COA reversed, finding that while these assets were separate, they nevertheless lost their distinction as separate property when husband deposited the monies into a joint bank account, co-mingling them with marital assets. The Court reversed the property award and remanded to the trial court with instructions to include the value of the sale of the prior home and business when dividing the marital estate. The lesson here: don't co-mingle what you had when single.

Don't Try this at Home

Infidelity stings regardless of where the dirty deed is done, but when a spouse brings his paramour into the marriage bed, it is an affront that can rankle the sensibilities of even the most cynical judges.

Telling your Spouse "I Want a Divorce"

Divorce isn't an easy process. The difficulty includes having "the talk" with your spouse. Initiating this talk requires a large amount of courage, especially because divorce is a time of great uncertainty. However, telling your spouse that you want a divorce is a conversation that needs to be had.

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