Willingham & Coté, P.C.
Property Division

Michigan is not a community property state and, thus, a couple’s marital assets and property is usually divided on a 50-50 basis. The assets and property accumulated during the course of the marriage are subject to equitable distribution by the court. The court has the discretion to determine what would be a fair division of the marital estate.

Any asset acquired during the marriage such as homes, real property, cars, boats, motor homes, and any other material possessions are subject to division by the court. Other assets acquired throughout the marriage that are actively contributed to during the marriage such as businesses, retirement accounts, 401Ks, 457 plans, Social Security disability benefits, pensions, IRAs, annuities, stocks and bonds, money market accounts, investment and bank accounts, royalties, and gifts are also subject to division by the courts as well.

Marital Debt

The court will also divide all marital debt on a 50-50 basis. Marital debt is any debt accumulated by the two parties throughout the course of a marriage. Regardless of whether the debt is in one spouse’s name or both spouse’s name, the marital debt will be divided between both parties. There are limited exceptions and you may not be liable for the debt if it was incurred by the other spouse exclusively for that spouse instead of for the both of you, such as credit card debt, college loan, etc.

We are experienced in and have the resources to handle complex marital estates. Complex marital estates may require expert opinions to divide the assets and debts properly in an equitable manner. We will help you understand the strengths of your case and help develop a plan to adequately value your property and debts.


After a divorce is completed, you should change your beneficiaries of your insurance policies, retirement accounts, pensions, etc., consistent with the terms of the Judgment of Divorce. Our firm can also assist you to prepare new estate planning documents, wills, and trusts post divorce to ensure that your ex-spouse is no longer a listed beneficiary to your estate. Learn more about our estate planning services.

Our firm also has the experience to help you refinance your mortgages and file all of the proper paperwork to ensure that your real property is transferred properly from spouse to the other. Learn more about our real estate services.

Learn More About Divorce and Property Division

Pets and Property

The courts will evaluate your property after you file for divorce. You may be surprised to learn that your pet is considered to be part of your property. So how will the court decide what to do with your pets? Obviously, most people treat their pets as beloved family members and would be absolutely shocked to learn that Michigan treats your pet as property, not a family member.

This means that the court handling your divorce will not spend any time to create a custody arrangement for your pet and your pet will be treated no differently than your pension, furniture or car.

This means that you will need to come to an agreement with your spouse if you want to share the pet after your divorce. This agreement must be put in writing for the court to enforce that agreement. If cannot agree to an arrangement to share the pet, the court will treat your pet as property and award the pet to one spouse over the other.

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