In deciding issues on appeal involving division of marital property, the Court first reviews the trial court’s findings of fact.
Findings of fact, such as a trial court’s valuations of particular marital assets, will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. A finding is clearly erroneous if, after a review of the entire record, the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake was made. If the trial court’s findings of fact are upheld, this Court must decide whether the dispositive ruling was fair and equitable in light of those facts.
In this case, the trial court did not allow defendant to participate in the hearing resolving the issues of child custody and the division of the marital property because defendant was in default. Plaintiff’s testimony was the only evidence introduced at the hearing.
The Court of Appeals has held that allowing a defaulted party to participate in the adjudication of the property division in a divorce case would effectively undermine the court’s inherent authority to enforce its own directives and to mold its relief according to the character of the case. Accordingly, the trial court did not err when it refused to allow defendant to participate in the hearing.
At the Plymouth law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys have the skill and experience you need to address all family law issues that may arise during your divorce, including:
- Property division
- Child custody and parenting time
- Child and spousal support
- Division of property
Our family law practice is headed by Brad Aldrich, a knowledgeable divorce lawyer with more than 20 years of legal experience.