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DIVORCE 10: Plaintiff contends that the home is not marital property, but rather separate property not subject to invasion.

Plaintiff’s father, purchased a parcel of land and Plaintiff’s father intended that plaintiff and defendant would live in the home and, upon their death, pass the property to their daughters.

Plaintiff’s father testified that, while defendant was out of work, he helped oversee construction of the house. Plaintiff’s father paid for childcare for the children while defendant worked on the property, but did not pay defendant for his work. To fund the construction, Plaintiff’s father opened a bank account in his, plaintiff’s, and defendant’s names so that everything was managed from one account. Only Plaintiff’s father deposited funds into the account.

The record indicates that construction of the home was a team effort. Defendant was apparently on site working every day and performed considerable work on the house and surrounding property. Construction on the home ended in 2012, and on October 25, 2012, Plaintiff’s father quitclaimed his interest in the property to plaintiff. In December 2012, plaintiff, defendant, and their two daughters moved into the house.

Plaintiff and defendant made accommodations and alterations to the home after moving in. Plaintiff also took out a mortgage on the home in her name, but defendant, as her husband, was required to sign the paperwork. Plaintiff used the mortgage funds to pay for work on the house, outstanding bills for materials, and to pay off vehicle loans for her and defendant. During the marriage, the parties pooled their monies and used their joint resources to pay all the bills; both were in charge of finances. However, when plaintiff lost her job in 2014, defendant became employed to support the family. Although plaintiff became reemployed within a month and again began contributing to the mortgage payments and family bills, defendant continued depositing his paychecks into their joint account, made mortgage payments, and paid the bills for the next six months. Plaintiff filed for divorce on January 27, 2015.

At trial, plaintiff requested that the trial court award her the home, whereas defendant requested 50% of the home’s equity. The trial court concluded that the home was marital property subject to division because defendant contributed to the marital home by working on it; plaintiff and defendant lived together in the home for two years; and defendant paid for the expenses of the home for six months. The court found that the parties comingled funds to build and maintain the home. The court further concluded that, even if the home was to be considered separate property, it would be subject to invasion because defendant extensively improved the property.

Are you facing a divorce in Michigan? Do you have questions about how your assets and your debts will be divided with your soon-to-be ex-spouse? Financial issues are often the biggest concern for individuals and families who are facing divorce.

At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys understand the struggles you may face. We will work hard to help you obtain all to which you are entitled during your divorce.

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