Law Offices of Lisa Stern
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Is Michigan a community property state?

If you are a Michigan resident contemplating divorce, you probably are concerned about how the property, assets and debts you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage will be distributed between you. As FindLaw explains, Michigan is not one of the community property states. Instead, Michigan adheres to the “equitable distribution” doctrine that takes your needs and those of your spouse into account when determining which of you gets what.

It is important for you to understand that everything you and your spouse acquired during your marriage, and whatever debts you undertook to acquire them, is considered to be marital property even though it is not community property. What this means is that if, for instance, you purchased a car during your marriage, paid for it with your own earnings, and did not put your spouse’s name on the title, you are the car’s owner and you probably will continue to own it after your divorce, although this is not a guaranteed assumption.

Equitable distribution

Equitable means fair. Therefore, an equitable distribution of you and your spouse’s marital property must be a fair one. Often this means a 50-50 split of the property. However, if there are circumstances in your marriage that would make such a split unfair, one of you could get a larger share of the marital property. On the other hand, that person likely will become responsible for a larger share of the marital debts as well.

Michigan courts consider such factors as the following when determining what constitutes an equitable distribution:

  • How long has your marriage lasted?
  • How much money does each of you earn?
  • Which of you bought which property?
  • What non-economic contributions have each of you made to the marriage?
  • Does either of you have special needs, such as the continuing need for medical care and/or assisted living?

This is general information only and is not intended to provide legal advice.

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