All men have heard horror stories about having to sacrifice on the altar of divorce fully half of the assets they’ve so painstakingly earned over the course of their lives. Silly cliches about boats sawed in half are tossed around, but the truth is no joking matter: division of marital property can result in a 50/50 split of the assets divided by the court. The important questions involve what constitutes marital property, and how the court determines what’s fair.

First of all, not all property owned by a husband or wife at the time of a divorce is “marital property”. Marital property is a legal term that inclues those things that came to the husband or wife as a result of the marriage, or that were earned during the marriage. Separate property, that which was held by either party before the marriage, can usually be kept outside the divorce proceedings.

So how does the court divide the marital estate? It is not according to a mathematical formula, nor is it a certain standard such as numerical equality. It is, instead, what the court determines to be “fair and equitable”, and this means exactly what it sounds like: property division that is a just and reasonable deal considering all the circumstances.

Though Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, meaning the court doesn’t consider who caused the failure of the marriage in granting its dissolution, the court does consider fault in determining the division of property. This means, for example, if the wife is largely found to be at fault for the breakdown of the marital relationship, the court will weigh this in determining what is fair to the husband in dividing property.

These are just some of the factors at play when the belongings of a divorcing couple are placed on the table for division. Many other things are considered, including financial need, the length of the marriage, and the age of the partners. To be sure that a husband understands all of the issues and how they affect his rights, it is essential that he is represented by experienced legal counsel.