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Trial court enters divorce default judgment.

Plaintiff filed divorce action after a nearly 20-year marriage. Although defendant apparently participated in various pretrial conferences and discussed the terms of the divorce judgment, he did not answer the complaint, a default was entered, and a default judgment was requested. After multiple adjournments, a hearing to enter the default judgment was held. The trial judge entered the judgment presented by plaintiff's counsel. Defendant then later appealed.

Defendant argued that the trial court improperly entered the default judgment without affording him the opportunity to be heard. Defendant also argued that entry of the judgment was improper because plaintiff failed to comply with MCR 3.210(B)(4)(a), which requires, among other things, that the plaintiff must, 14 days before the hearing, serve on the defendant a copy of the proposed default judgment. Although defendant acknowledged that a copy of a proposed judgment was served on him at least 14 days before the hearing, he claimed that the proposed judgment presented to the trial court differed from the proposed judgment that had been served on him.

The record did not support defendant's contention that he was not allowed to participate in the hearing. Defendant attended the default judgement hearing. Plaintiff was called as a witness and, after the direct examination by plaintiff's attorney was finished, the trial judge asked defendant "do you have any questions for your wife?" Defendant responded that he did not. Defendant was then sworn and asked questions by the trial court. Defendant stated his objections to the judgment. There is no indication from the record that the trial court prevented defendant from making any argument that he wished or from presenting evidence. Defendant also did not raise any objections at the hearing, nor move to set aside the default judgment.

Court affirmed trial court decision.  Defendant had the right to fully participate in the hearing and he was not precluded from doing so. 

If you are served with divorce papers, contact an experienced divorce attorney right away. It is important that you find an attorney who has the skills and experience you need to address all issues that may arise during your divorce, including property division, child custody and parenting time, child and spousal support.

REAL ESTATE 2: Property dispute, intent is not required for a trespass.

In instances of trespass where injunctive relief and actual damages are not warranted, a plaintiff nevertheless is entitled to nominal damages. Because a trespass violates a landholder’s right to exclude others from the premises, the landholder could recover at least nominal damages even in the absence of proof of any other injury.

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