Once a Michigan Judgment of Divorce is entered most people think that things are final and they are right. The limited exception to this rule applies to custody, parenting time and support which can change when there is a change of circumstances. However, there are certain limited circumstances when you can request a court to grant relief from a Judgment of Divorce.
The limited circumstances can be found in Michigan Court Rule 2.612. The Court Rule allows a party to seek Relief from a Judgment under the following circumstances:
a. Clerical mistake. Michigan Court Rule 2.612(A) addresses clerical mistakes in judgments, orders or other parts of the record and errors arising from oversight or omission. The Court Rule provides that a clerical error in a Judgment of Divorce may be corrected by the court at any time.
b. Lack of knowledge of the hearing. Michigan Court Rule 2.612(B) addresses circumstances when a party did not have knowledge of the hearing or was not personally notified. If a party was not properly notified or did not have knowledge of the hearing, he/she can ask for relief from a Judgment within 1 year after the final Judgment.
c. Other grounds for relief from Judgment. Michigan Court Rule 2.612(C) provides additional grounds to relief a party from a final Judgment. These additional grounds include:
(a) Mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect.
(b) Newly discovered evidence which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a new trial under MCR 2.611(B).
(c) Fraud (intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party.
(d) The judgment is void.
(e) The judgment has been satisfied, released, or discharged; a prior judgment on which it is based has been reversed or otherwise vacated; or it is no longer equitable that the judgment should have prospective application.
Pursuant to MCR 2.612(2) The motion for relief from a Michigan Judgment of Divorce must be made in a reasonable time and MCR 2.612(3) authorizes certain independent actions to provide relief from a Judgment of Divorce.
A review of the case law which addresses motions for relief from a Judgment of Divorce supports the notion that relief is not very easy to achieve. The most common basis for obtaining relief from a Judgment of Divorce is lack of notice or fraud.
Notwithstanding the two key learning’s from this blog should be:
(1) If you learn of a Judgment against you must do something about it now (don’t wait) because time can be of the essence; and
(2) Most Judgments are final and non-modifiable.
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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
Fundamentally Speaking – Custody Modification in Michigan – Vodvarka – the seminal case.