Once you and your spouse have decided to separate, you may disagree about who should remain in your shared home. The answer depends on several factors, including the value of the property and whether or not you have children.

Before moving out before a divorce, get to know the laws about homestead and property division in Michigan.

Understanding fair property division

Michigan requires couples to divide properly fairly, which means that they do not necessarily split assets and debts 50/50. Anything acquired during the marriage counts as marital property. However, if you bought the home before the marriage, the court will consider any increase in equity marital property if your spouse contributed to mortgage payments, upgrades or upkeep. The name on the deed does not necessarily determine ownership in the eyes of the court.

Paying the mortgage

Usually, whoever keeps a specific piece of marital property retains any debt associated with that property. If you remain in the home after the divorce, you are responsible for paying the mortgage. Are you able to afford the bills and upkeep for the property, or does it make more sense to downsize? If neither spouse can pay these costs, the couple may sell the home and divide the proceeds after repaying the mortgage.

Giving up ownership

A common myth about divorce indicates that if a person moves out of the home, he or she has no claim to the property. In fact, moving out during a separation does not impact your claim on real estate that constitutes marital property. The court will still divide this asset in your divorce judgment.

Refinancing the home

If one person keeps the home, he or she must refinance it so the other person is no longer on the mortgage. Although you must legally begin this process if stated in your Michigan divorce judgment, it may be impossible to refinance if you owe more than the home is worth or if your credit limits access to a home loan.