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DIVORCE 67: The parties agreed to submit their post judgment of divorce issues to binding arbitration.

In this case plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce. The parties ultimately reached a settlement agreement regarding the division of the marital estate, which included multiple parcels of real estate. The trial court entered a consent judgment of divorce. In relevant part, the consent judgment required defendant to transfer two parcels of real estate to plaintiff within 10 days of the entry of the judgment. Defendant was awarded the former marital home, but the parties agreed that plaintiff would be permitted to rent it.

In August 2019, defendant moved the trial court to enforce the consent judgment, arguing that plaintiff owed unpaid rent and utilities. Plaintiff alleged that defendant had failed to disclose outstanding debt remaining on the two parcels of real property that were awarded to her in the settlement.

Binding Arbitration

The parties agreed to submit their post judgment of divorce issues to binding arbitration. The arbitration agreement broadly granted the arbitrator the authority to decide the post judgment of divorce issues that were pending before the trial court.

In this case, the arbitrator repeatedly referenced the consent judgment. In relevant part, the arbitrator noted that the consent judgment provided that the parties had made full disclosures, and the arbitrator found that defendant had failed to disclose certain debts relating to the real property that was transferred to plaintiff. The arbitrator also found that defendant’s failure to disclose this debt was an intentional act.

Arbitration Award

The arbitrator issued an award after holding an evidentiary hearing. The defendant was required to pay plaintiff a net sum. This amount included $4,000 in attorney fees, which the arbitrator ordered because defendant had unnecessarily increased the cost and duration of the litigation by making false arguments and by intentionally failing to comply with the consent judgment.

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We help with all issues of divorce, including post judgment of divorce issues. We are committed to providing each of our clients with quality legal representation and superior service. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer at our firm, contact our Michigan law office.

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FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

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