Property Settlement


Rochester Michigan Family Law Lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski

Michigan is a "no fault" divorce state, not a community property state. This means that you don't have to prove that the other side is at fault, unfaithful, or violent in order to get a divorce. Fault can be considered by the judge when property is divided, however. Many judges may decide that an affair wasn't the cause of the breakdown of a marriage, but is merely a symptom that the marriage was already in trouble. That is not true of all judges, however. Everyone has a view about fault in divorce. It's often better for the parties to reach their own final settlement without going to trial. [90% of all divorce cases are settled prior to trial.] Even so, a spiteful spouse who feels wronged may hold out for a larger share of the assets or for an earlier date for division of assets like pensions.

In Michigan, property will usually be split 50-50. If fault is considered by the judge in dividing the property, however, the court can shift the division from 50-50 to 60-40 or some other percentage. Michigan judges don't always have the same views about division of property. In determining property issues, Michigan judges will normally consider the following:

Length of the marriage

Contributions of the parties to the marital estate

Age of the parties

Health of the parties

Life status of the parties

Necessities and circumstances of the parties

Earning abilities of the parties

Past relations and conduct of the parties

General principles of equity


Sometimes assets are sold and the net sale proceeds are distributed. In the alternative, sometimes the parties are able to negotiate and divide assets up without forcing a sale. Arguments about how the property is to be divided can force people into corners that they feel compelled to defend. This is why early four-way discussion between the parties and their lawyers is a good idea. Mediation, and more rarely binding arbitration, can help the parties reach a fair settlement. When the parties have minor children that they hope to co-parent for many years, it's a good idea to avoid as much conflict as possible in order to preserve a friendly, cooperative parenting relationship with an ex-spouse.

Reaching a Property Settlement through Mediation and/or Negotiation

Normally, the parties reach a settlement of all their property rights after negotiation. Trained mediators can be very helpful in assisting parties reach a settlement. If the parties cannot agree on the issues, then the judge will decide after the trial is concluded.

Property settlements are not modifiable once they have been put into writing and signed by the parties or placed on the record in open court, except under rare circumstances. The only grounds for setting aside or modifying a settlement are certain kinds of fraud, clerical error, mistake, or gross unfairness in the initial trial. Therefore, it is imperative that you understand and accept the settlement before you sign it and as it is stated on the record. Certain assets require special orders in addition to the judgment in order to get them divided. These include retirement or pension plans. Your attorney, upon request, will explain how qualified domestic relations order procedures will affect your rights. often outside experts are called upon to draft the orders required to divide pension plans.

If necessary, property settlements in judgments may be enforced by execution, garnishment, show cause proceedings, etc. Your divorce attorney can explain these procedures to you if necessary.

You may have additional questions concerning a premarital or cohabitation agreement.

To schedule an initial meeting with family lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski or just ask a question, call or send an e-mail today. You will find fact-gathering questionnaires on this website. Fill them out and mail them in to Ms. Sadowski's office or schedule an appointment and bring them with you.

Contact Rochester, Michigan divorce lawyer, Elizabeth Sadowski at (248) 652-4000  Email:  sadowski [at]

Family lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski serves clients throughout northern Oakland and Macomb Counties . © 2009 Elizabeth Sadowski

►  No fee referrals within Michigan and/or to other states’ attorneys

►  No initial consultation fee unless retained

This website is intended to provide only a brief overview of family law in Michigan. If you have any questions regarding your family law matter, contact me today. I will discuss your legal needs and provide you with information to protect you and your family for years to come.

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Elizabeth A. Sadowski, Family Lawyer
Colbert Shepard & Sadowski LLP
431 6th Street, Rochester, MI  48307
• E-mail: elizabeth.sadowski [at]
Telephone: (248) 652-4000  Telefax:  (248) 652-1259

Practice Areas: Divorce  Custody  Parenting Time  Child Support Post-Judgment Modifications  Paternity  Adoption  Personal Protection Orders  Spousal Support  Property Distribution  Pre-Nuptial / Post-Nuptial Agreements Estate Planning Guardianships/Conservatorships  Neglect/Abuse Cases 

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Copyright © 2009 Elizabeth A. Sadowski. All rights reserved

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