Michigan Family Law Post-Judgment and Trial

In Michigan a judgment of divorce must be granted if the court finds that “there has been a breakdown in the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved. This judgment can be entered if the defendant fails to respond to the plaintiff’s complaint in Michigan if the parties come to a settlement agreement or after a trial. All judgments must be put on the court record and there is a 60 day waiting period for Michigan divorces without children and 6 months if minor children are involved.

A Michigan divorce judgment must contain provisions such as: pension, dower, insurance, annuity, retirement benefits, property division, spousal support and payment of support, notices regarding retroactive modification of support, a surcharge on past-due payments and the necessity to keep certain information updated with the Michigan Friend of the Court. If minor children are involved in your Michigan divorce, additional provisions are required such as custody, parenting time, support, payment of support, arrearages, health care, moving the child’s residence out of state, and any changes the child’s address. The judgment in Michigan can also contain provisions for payment of attorney fees, litigation fees, name change of a party, enforcements releases, injunction and tax exemptions.

Can I object or challenge my judgment in Michigan?

In Michigan, a party may request relief from the divorce judgment by moving for a new trial/rehearing, amendment or correction of the judgment or a clarification. Motions to set aside in Michigan must be brought within one year of the judgment.

Can a Michigan divorce judgment be modified?

Yes, some provisions in a Michigan divorce judgment can be modified such as custody, parenting time, child support and spousal support, but others such as property division and alimony in gross (lump sum payment to other spouse – different than periodic payment) are not modifiable in a Michigan divorce.

Who enforces the Michigan divorce judgment?

In divorce cases in Michigan the final judgment is enforced by the court that handled the case even if all parties leave the State of Michigan. The court has the power to enforce the order, and the Michigan Friend of the Court must assist the parties in enforcing the support provisions outlined in the divorce judgment. Contempt of the court in Michigan can be used to enforce support orders, and property settlements are enforced by methods such as garnishment, attachment and execution.

What if one spouse dies during the Michigan divorce process?

In this unique situation, if the final divorce judgment in Michigan has not been entered, the court is precluded from an entry of judgment of divorce, meaning there is no longer a relationship to dissolve by the court. The judgment must be in writing and signed; this is not accomplished at death, the parties are still married. There are certain limited exemptions to this rule, which you should speak to your Michigan divorce lawyer to see if these exemptions would apply to your case.

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