In the media, the law is often portrayed playing out dramatically in a courtroom. In reality, very few cases proceed to trial, with family matters being no exception to the general rule. While excessive litigation may be the misnomer, the following information briefly outlines some family law considerations when considering a divorce trial.
What a divorce trial means in a family law case?
Our team of divorce specialists of hundreds (if not thousands) of hours of divorce trial experience. Some parties in a divorce matter will say, “Just let the judge decide.” And, that idea is exactly what happens in a divorce trial or custody trial. As there are no juries in a divorce trial or custody trial, the judge renders the decision (called an opinion).
At a divorce trial, a judge will make an equitable distribution as to the aspects of the case in dispute. An equitable decision does not necessarily mean an exact “50/50” division. Rather, the terminology is less about a mathematical division but rather something akin to fairness or impartiality. There are different factors that go into a judge’s decision regarding property division.
Similarly, custody and parenting time are analyzed under the “best interests of the child” factors per the statutory authority of MCL 722.23. There is a strong presumption for children to have meaningful relationships with both parents. However, if parties are unable to agree and the matter goes to trial, the judge will make a determination based in part upon a best interest analysis.
Often there are no “bright line” rules employed in a family trial and the judge will use factors to determine the outcome. As the next section suggests, there are significant risks that must be considered before proceeding to trial.
Risks at a divorce trial or custody trial
A judge has the obligation to be impartial and equitable; she or he cannot be involved with the personalities and individual nuances family matters present. Trials are public, expensive, and often turn out decisions neither party are happy with. Perhaps the biggest consideration when considering a divorce trial or custody trial is the relinquishment of control. At the end of the day the outcome of your case is decided by the judge, and the judge alone. How a litigant behaves in front of a judge can set the tone for how the court will treat that individual. It is worth mentioning, that a litigant should always be on his or her best behavior in the courtroom.
In Michigan, family law cases often settle through the help of legal counsel or mediation. With settlement, parties are directly involved in the outcomes of their matters. They can craft resolution that fit their specific needs. These resolutions and settlement can be reached privately before being memorialized in a judgment of divorce.
While not every case settles, and some do proceed to a full trial, parties must understand their different options.
Whether your case is ripe for a divorce trial or custody trial?
Before you and your spouse say, “let the judge decide” see an attorney at Findling Law. At Findling, we are experienced at seeing various types of cases with varying levels of complexity. Before letting your fate be determined by a judge, schedule an appointment to discuss your options.
By: Kristina Bilowus
About Findling Law
Findling Law, PLC – 414 W. 5th St. Royal Oak, Michigan 48067
I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling