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February 4, 2020

In Michigan property can be divided between the parties in an equitable fashion, generally speaking, any property that is obtained during the marriage is subject to distribution between the parties, any property obtained prior to marriage is generally not subject to distribution.

Although fault is not a factor in obtaining a divorce, fault can be a faction in a determination of distribution of both assets and liabilities that is property and debt.

As a general rule, the starting point for the division of property obtained during the marriage is a 50/50 split, however, in a very short term marriage, the Court may look to put the parties back in a position they were in prior to marriage, rather than splitting the assets obtained in a very short term marriage.  Property obtained prior to marriage will likely be returned to that party, which is both real estate tangible things and money, including retirement benefits and pensions.  Property obtained during marriage, even if there is a significant time where the parties lived, the parties generally considered marital property and will be split by the parties in some fashion.

Retirement benefits are included in this type of property to be divided by the parties.  If fault is an issue, such as adultery, abuse, alcoholic behavior, use of drugs, the Court can make a determination that because of fault, there should be something other than a 50/50 split of marital property.  In order for the Court to make this ruling, it will need to state the reasons for coming to this decision on the record.

Merrill Gordon is an Oakland County attorney with more than 35 years’ experience in divorce and family court proceedings along with all manners of civil actions. He is also a court-appointed mediator in Oakland and Wayne counties and has received an AV peer review rating, the highest available.

He is a graduate of Michigan State University and the Thomas Cooley Law School.  He was admitted to State Bar of Michigan and all Michigan State and Federal Courts in 1981, and the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1985. He is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, Oakland Country Bar Association, American Bar Association and the Mediation Tribunal Association.

For a free initial consultation, contact Merrill Gordon at (248) 626-3000 or via email at

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Merrill Gordon is accessible to clients at his Farmington Hills office and is also available via phone or email to discuss your case any time of day, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. He also provides a free initial consultation and flexible payment options.