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Dissolution of a Long-Term Marriage in Oakland County

Dissolution of a Long-Term Marriage in Oakland County

Some states operate on a community property theory of dividing assets in a divorce. In Michigan, however, that is not the case. When dividing marital assets, Michigan attempts to come to an “equitable” or fair arrangement. In this, there are a number of factors that the courts consider. One of those factors is the length of the marriage.

Community Property vs. Equitable Distribution in Divorce Proceedings

In community property states, marital property is divided right down the middle 50/50. Michigan operates on a theory of equitable distribution of property. While in some cases this may result in a 50/50 distribution of marital property, it does not always.

It is also important to recognize that before an equitable distribution can be arranged, you and your spouse must first to come to an agreement on what property is yours, what property is theirs, and what property is marital property. If you fail to come to an agreement, then the court will be forced to decide the matter for you.

Marital Property vs. Separate Personal Property

If you have been together for a long time, most of what you own will comprise the marital estate. This includes any property that was acquired during the marriage.

  • Your home,
  • Vehicles,
  • Retirement funds,
  • Furniture,
  • Art,
  • Real estate,
  • Investments,
  • And Collectibles.

Basically, any asset that was acquired during the marriage, regardless of which spouse it was earned by, is marital property. This is what will be separated by the courts.

The only property that is eligible to be separated is property that was acquired before the marriage or property that was acquired through an inheritance.

Fair Does Not Necessarily Mean Equal

Fair does not necessarily mean equal, but what constitutes “fair” in Michigan? There are a number of factors that are taken into consideration. One of those factors is the length of the marriage.

For instance, for marriages that have gone on for a very long time, there will simply be more marital property than in marriages that only lasted a couple years. In some cases, this can impact the distribution of assets much more than a short-term marriage would.

Other factors impacting property distribution include:

  • Each spouse’s earning power. In some cases, one spouse was the primary breadwinner and still has ample earning power when the marriage is dissolved. In that case, an equitable distribution may favor a spouse with less earning power.
  • Each spouse’s health. If one spouse’s health is compromised, this can impact his or her ability to earn money. If one spouse is in poor health, the court may decide to tip the scales in his or her favor.
  • Each spouse’s conduct. If one spouse cheated on the other spouse or otherwise behaved badly in the marriage, the courts will likely tip the scales in the other spouse’s favor.

If you need to dissolve a long-term marriage and want an attorney who will advocate passionately on your behalf, contact the Oakland County divorce attorneys at Iafrate & Salassa. We can help protect your interests during your divorce.

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