Michigan Marital Property Laws

You were more concerned with having the perfect place settings on the dinner tables for your wedding than you were about which one of you would get that perfect dining room table you bought together a few months later. But if you get divorced, how does all of your stuff get divided? Well, in most states, including Michigan, marital property is divided based on the concept of equitable distribution.

What Is Martial Property?

Marital property generally refers to all property acquired after a couple gets married. It's important to realize that the name on the title of property doesn't necessarily determine who owns it. Marital property is owned by both of you and gets divided in a divorce. Separate property, on the other hand, is property one spouse owns before the marriage and is not divided in a divorce. If one spouse is given or inherits property during the marriage, it's also normally considered separate property. While nine states recognize the concept of community property, in which all marital property is considered equally owned, most states allow more flexibility in property division should the couple get a divorce.

Dividing Marital Property in Michigan

Michigan law requires courts to determine a "fair" division of marital property. Fair in this case usually means that each spouse gets about half of everything. However, a court could decide it's fair to divide your property in a different way. If one of you is more at fault for the end of the marriage or if one person needs more property, for instance, your property could be divided unequally (but equitably). It's possible that the spouse who gets more marital property also takes on more marital debt.

Michigan Marital Property Laws at a Glance

While it's important to read the actual law(s) when trying to find an answer to a legal question, it can also be very helpful to read a summary of the law in plain English. In the following chart you can find a brief overview of Michigan marital property laws, as well as links to relevant statutes.

Statute(s) Michigan Compiled Laws Section 557.21, et seq. (Property of Husband and Wife)
Community Property Recognized? No, but Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act adopted.
How Is Property Divided?

Marital property and debt are generally divided fairly and equally. However, a judge has the authority to divide it in a different way in certain circumstances. For example, marital debt may be divided unequally in the following situations:

  • One spouse has the ability to pay more;
  • One spouse is responsible for incurring the debt (without the other spouse's consent and for a purpose that didn't benefit the couple); or
  • One spouse is more at fault for the termination of the marriage.
Dower and Curtesy

While dower is recognized (Section 558.1, et seq.), no curtesy or dower is allowed in community property (Section 557.214).

Related Statute(s)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Michigan Marital Property Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like additional information related to this topic, please click on the links below.

Have Questions About Marital Property Laws in Michigan? Ask a Lawyer

It's important to understand marital property laws so that you don't inadvertently turn your separate property into marital property. If you have questions about how Michigan marital property laws affect your specific situation, it's best to talk to a skilled divorce attorney near you today.

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