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Plymouth, MI Property Division Cases
Marital Property

Based on principles found in Michigan Statutes, as well as the often cited case of Sparks v Sparks, 440 Mich 141; 485 NW2d 893 (1992), the court is required to look at a number of factors in determining how marital property is to be divided. Depending on the circumstances, some of the following, generally recognized factors, may be given more weight than others.

  1. Duration of the marriage.  The longer the marriage, the more the court will endeavor to distribute all the assets of the parties, irrespective of whether they had them prior to the marriage.  If the marriage is only a year or so old, the court will move towards putting the parties back where they were prior to the marriage.
  2. Contribution of the parties to the marriage. The court will not only look at who earned the money used to buy the assets the parties own, but also to the efforts of a spouse who stayed home to take care of the parties, their home and their children. It one party wasted, gave away without the other’s permission, or destroyed assets, that too can be considered.
  3. Age of the parties. As a person gets older, they as less likely to be able to acquire property. Also, their age may require them to have certain property that is more useful or valuable to them, than it is to the other party.
  4. Health of the parties. As with age, a persons health effects their needs, which the court must take into consideration where dividing property.
  5. Life status of the parties. To the extent that their assets, and other equities of the case allow it, people should be able to life a reasonably comparable lifestyle, after the divorce, than they did before it.
  6. Necessities and circumstances of the parties. Again, the focus is on the particular needs of the parties, and the other obligations that they are also being required to undertake, such as the primary responsibility of raising the parties children, among many other things.
  7. Earning ability of the parties. Once the parties are divorced, each will be awarded certain property. One party may have far superior earnings capacity than the other, and easily replace the items awarded the other. They can also more easily build on the estate over the years. This too is relevant.
  8. Past relations and conduct of the parties. Despite Michigan being a “no-fault” divorce state, as discussed elsewhere on this website, if one party has been substantially at fault for the breakdown of the marriage by, for example, having extra-marital affairs, abusing alcohol or drugs, or committing domestic violence or child abuse, then the court may award less to the wrongdoer than it does to the party who kept their marriage vows and acted responsibly.
  9. General principles of equity. If a divorce is handled correctly, the division of the property and debts should be fair and reasonable. Equity means that the court does not have to follow strict rules of division to do what is right.

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