Dividing jointly owned property between same-sex spouses

As of June 26, 2015, Michigan’s laws have recognized same-sex marriages. Some couples, however, may have begun their relationships before the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court ruling. If two individuals obtained assets together before their marriage, however, a divorce may affect their rights to property division.

As noted by Deeds.com, two unmarried individuals, for example, may purchase real estate together as tenants in common or as joint tenants with the right of survivorship. Couples who obtain property as tenants in common may agree on one individual owning a larger percentage than the other individual.

A divorce may require a sale of joint property

Joint tenants divide ownership of property equally between the two individuals. When one joint tenant owner dies, the surviving owner takes possession of the entire property. A divorce, however, does not act in the same manner as though a joint owner died.

Couples who married after purchasing their property together as joint tenants have options for dividing it. To sell jointly owned property, co-owners must first agree on the sale and then split the net proceeds equally between them. Some couples may find divorce an opportune time to sell a shared residence.

A spouse who wishes to keep property may need to retitle the deed

If an individual wish to keep a jointly owned property, he or she may need to retitle the deed in his or her own name. As reported by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, a spouse may run into problems even though he or she contributed to its mortgage payments and upkeep.

Because Michigan’s divorce laws require dividing property obtained after marriage fairly between both spouses, an individual may need to buy out the other owner’s share. With property purchased before marriage, however, the ownership structure may determine how a couple can divide it between them.