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Family Law

House Bills Propose Amending Divorce Act

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House Bill 4672 proposes to amend the Divorce Act, sections 552.18 and 552.19 and House Bill 4673 to amend Section 552.401.  Among other things, HB 4672 and HB 4673 change parties' burdens of proof as they relate to marital and non-marital property determinations; insulate separate property from ownership from the non-owner spouse; and diminish the court's discretion to evaluate an entire situation and award property based on equity.

Section 401 appears to bar the award of separate property to the non-owner spouse, except in certain and limited circumstances.  In fact, the section refers the court back to section 19 for property distribution.  These bills would affect comingling case law such that the change of separate property that has been comingled into marital property is eliminated and instead the property considered marital for purposes of distribution, the issue becomes one of simply reimbursing the non-owner spouse for the amount of his or her contribution to the property.  The compensation is then limited by any amount for which said non-owner spouse may have already been reasonably compensated. Thus, no ownership in the property is given to the non-owner spouse, only reimbursement.  There are of course minimal exceptions to this rule.

Some believe that these amendments do not codify Michigan law as it currently stands. To read more, please click the links within the text above.


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