Henry Ford is credited with the quote, “Don’t find fault, find a remedy.” Which begs the question, what is the remedy if you find a party at fault in a Michigan divorce?
If a court finds a party at fault for the breakdown of the marriage, one fault remedy is to give the victim a larger portion of the marital estate.
The Michigan Court of Appeals case of Sparks v Sparks, 440 Mich App 141 (1992) provides the legal basis for this remedy.
In the Sparks case, the court was asked to consider the element of fault as it relates to the division of marital assets. The Sparks court decided that marital misconduct (“the past relations and conduct of the parties”) is one of several relevant factors that the trial court must consider when making a fair division of property.
The other factors that should be considered are as follows:
- The duration of the marriage;
- The contributions of the parties to the marital estate;
- The age of the parties;
- The health of the parties;
- The life status of the parties;
- The necessities and circumstances of the parties;
- The earning abilities of the parties; and
- general principles of fairness.
The fault remedy of an unequal division of the marital estate is also supported by statute. In Michigan Compiled Laws, section 552.19, the Michigan legislature provides court’s with the authority to:
“. . . make a further judgment for restoring to either party the whole, or such parts as it shall deem just and reasonable, of the real and personal estate that shall have come to either party by reason of the marriage.”; See also, Ackerman v. Ackerman, 163 Mich App., 796 (1987).
It is well established law in Michigan that there is no rigid rule or mathematical formula for the division of property, and there is no requirement that the trial court award property equally to the parties (See: Shaw v. Shaw, 264 Mich 560, 564 (1961); Ackerman, 163 Mich App at 807) but the award must be equitable, MCL 552.401.
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I have been in practice for almost 20 years and practice exclusively in divorce and family law. My practice includes several attorneys who share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their life, without compromising principles. We have extensive experience in high socio-economic, high profile and high conflict cases which has nurtured a skill set applicable to all divorce and family law cases regardless of socio-economic status. We recognize that it is the application of the law that is most important aspect of practice. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm.
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By: Daniel Findling