The case of Fault in Michigan divorce – Property division

The case of fault in Michigan divorce.  By Daniel Findling:  In prior articles we explored the notion of fault in Michigan.  Fault in Michigan is relevant.  Michigan is both a fault and a no fault State.  The grounds for a divorce in Michigan are no-fault, however fault can play a role in addressing issues of property division, alimony and child custody.  (For more information visit:


The Michigan divorce attorneys at Findling law argued the is sue of fault in Michigan in a divorce at the Michigan Court of Appeals.  In the case, Gill vs. Gill, docket no. 301839 the trial court agreed with our Michigan divorce attorneys and found the husband significantly at fault for the breakdown of the marriage.  The court awarded an unequal division of the marital estate because of the husband’s wrongful conduct upholding the notion that fault in Michigan is relevant.  (For more information visit:

Since the past conduct of a party is relevant in Michigan divorce law, I thought it would be meaningful to explore some important cases on the issue of fault in Michigan divorce.

The following cases address the issue of fault in Michigan divorce law – Property division:

  • Fault is still a factor to consider when dividing property in a Michigan divorce.  McDougal v. McDougal, 451 Mich 80 (1996) and Navarre v. Navarre, 191 Mich App 395 (1991)
  • The parties conduct leading up to the separation is the relevant consideration not necessarily who left the marriage.  Zechin v. Zechin 149 Mich App 723 (1990)
  • Marital misconduct after the date of the filing of divorce did not justify a 70-30 split of the marital property.  Knowles v. Knowles, 185 Mich App (1990)
  • A party’s conduct resulting from the consumption of alcohol contributed to the breakdown of the marital relationship.  Welling v. Welling 233 Mich App 708 (1999)
  • Fault is only one factor and should not be given undue emphasis.  Sparks v. Sparks, 440 Mich 141 (1992)
  • Fault is an element in the search for an equitable division under Michigan property law.  Fault should not be used to punish, rather make the division fair.  McDougal v. McDougal, 451 Mich at 90 (2008)

Michigan divorce case law provides that fault is relevant in dividing property.  A court cannot punish someone for their wrongful conduct, but can award an unequal division of marital property to make the property division fair.

If you have any additional questions, comments or concerns, I encourage you to set up a free confidential consultation with one of our Michigan divorce attorneys.  The consultation is great first step to develop a plan and set goals.  We will answer all of your questions.  More importantly, you will leave with an action plan for success.

Change is rarely easy, sometimes complicated and often emotional. Our experienced family law lawyers and support group utilize a team approach to focus on solutions. We apply Michigan law and specialize in helping you focus on your goals, protect your property interests, manage your custody and support interest, and keep you happy. Our commitment is to solve problems at an affordable cost. We love to settle cases, but are not afraid to fight.

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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.

We want to help you manage your situation. Let our exceptional legal team help you . . .


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By:  Daniel Findling

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