While the idea of divorce might be a simple matter of two people ending their marriage, the logistics can be drawn-out and complex. One aspect of the divorce process involves dividing your assets. This includes property, personal belongings and even debts. But how does the state of Michigan go about this process?

What is a community property state?

Community property, sometimes called joint or marital property, is the property that you and your spouse accumulated during your marriage. Some states thus abide by community property laws, which means that a couple owns all assets accrued during their marriage equally. When it comes time to split those assets in a divorce, then, a court divides them equally between each party.

Michigan is not a community property state. Instead, courts abide by equitable distribution laws. This means that a court will divide marital property based on fairness, not equality.

Factors that determine equitable distribution

Specifically, the assets most often categorized as community, or marital, property include real estate, business investments, income, debts and some items like furniture and even pets. A judge will look at several factors to determine how to equitably distribute your marital property, including:

  • How long your marriage lasted
  • Each party’s current financial standing
  • Each party’s future financial needs
  • The age and health of each party
  • The actual amount you contributed to your marital property

A judge will also consider any adverse actions committed by either party that contributed to the end of your marriage. This includes extramarital affairs, domestic violence or gambling debts.

Get the most out of your divorce

You and your soon-to-be-ex have the opportunity to come to a division of assets on your own. Court intervention is only necessary if you cannot come to an agreement. Even then, there are ways to collaborate and resolve your issues.

Still, if you cannot find a solution that satisfies everyone, your future likely rests in the hands of a judge. During this challenging and emotionally wrought time, having a trusted and experienced attorney at your side to guide you through the process can help you get the most out of your divorce.