The marital estate – What to divide?

The importance of understanding the nature and extent of the marital estate before reaching a settlement cannot be understated. After all, if you do not know what there is to divide, how can you determine if a deal is a good or bad deal? Lawyers obtain this information through a process called discovery.


Sometimes, the parties are in possession of all of the assets and liabilities and the “discovery” process is not complex. However, in other cases, discovering what there is to divide requires work.  

The discovery process includes a Verified Financial Information Form (VFIF), Interrogatories, Subpoena and Depositions.  It may also include appraisals and business valuations by certified experts.

Michigan Michigan has a strong historical commitment to a far-reaching, open and effective discovery practice, which is the mechanism by which lawyers obtain an understanding of what there is to divide.

The discovery rules are liberally construed in order to further the ends of justice. The modern tendency is to broaden the scope of discovery when necessary to facilitate preparation, to guard against surprise, and to expedite justice. In order to proceed with discovery, a party need only show that the matter upon which discovery is sought is relevant and not privileged. Evidence is relevant when it has any tendency to make the existence of any fact that is of consequence to the determination of the action more probable or less probable than it would be without the evidence. MRE 401.

Understanding the marital estate

You should begin negoitations only after you have an understanding of the nature and extent of the marital estate and your lawyer can help you maximize or minimize (as the case may be) what is included in the martial estate to benefit their client. 

Let it be our privilege to help.


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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

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