Michigan is not a 50/50 state. However, it is not uncommon for property in a divorce to be divided 50/50 (equally). Sometimes examples are better than words. Take two long term marriages with the exact same marital estate. The first marriage is 30 years and the parties lived as husband and wife. The second marriage is 30 years and the parties have not seen each other for 29 years. Obviously it would not be equitable (fair) to treat both of these cases the same. In the first example, a 50/50 division would seem appropriate, but not in the second example.
Sometimes Michigan is a 50/50 State.
Michigan is a 50/50 State when equity so requires and there are a number of factors that a Court must take into consideration before dividing property. These factors are set forth in the seminal case of Sparks v. Sparks.
In the Sparks case, the Michigan Supreme Court determined what relevant factors a trial court should consider when dividing property. The Sparks factors are:
- The length of the marriage;
- 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 capacity of the parties;
- The past relations and conduct of the parties (fault); and
- General principles of equity.
In simple terms, Michigan can be a 50/50 State, however, property will not be divided equally until after a court evaluates the Sparks factors. In practical terms, the longer the marriage the more likely property will be divided equally unless equity (fairness) requires a different division.
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