Dividing Marital Property
Michigan is what is commonly referred to as an "equitable distribution" state. This means that your marital property is not necessarily distributed on a 50-50 basis, but is instead distributed based on the principle of fairness. Michigan acknowledges that not every spouse will leave a marriage with the same burdens, needs, or financial potential. In order to create as equal a situation as possible, property distribution may factor in those issues.
Is Equitable Always Fair?
The court starts with the presumption that the parties should each receive a "roughly congruent" share of the marital property.
Marital property is undefined by statute, but case law defines it as any property (including debt) acquired during the marriage, from any source, but excludes property acquired before the marriage and any increased in its value so long as the increase was passive. However, special rules apply to gifts (whether they were for the marriage or for the individual), inheritances, and commingled property, and you should consult with a lawyer to determine what your particular county and/or judge considers marital and separate property.
There is no "bright-line" rule to divide property; instead, the court considers several factors, including the length of the marriage, the parties' needs, age of the spouses, the value of the property, and so forth. The court also considers the divisibility of assets, like businesses.