Law and Equity – Doing what is fair in Michigan divorce and Michigan custody cases.
In Michigan divorce and Michigan custody cases, the judge sits in both law and equity. Divorce and custody law is the written rules of law found in statutes, court rules and court cases. Equity is best described as doing what is fair. Traditionally, equity is used when application of the law would lead to a harsh result. The distinction between law and equity arose in England where there were separate courts. One court for law and another for equity.
Understanding and applying the law and equity distinction in Michigan divorce and Michigan custody cases is sometimes difficult. Seasoned Michigan divorce lawyers will argue and custody lawyers will argue both in equity and law. There is an old saying that you argue equity when the law is not on your side and the law when equity is not on your side. Notwithstanding, if given a choice, most Michigan divorce judges and Michigan custody judges will choose an argument supported by law over an argument supported by equity. However, equity still plays a role in many cases.
In some circumstances the law is written to accommodate equity considerations in both Michigan divorce and Michigan custody cases by authorizing a judge to consider equity (fairness) in making certain decisions.
For example, the Best Interest Factors of the Child Custody Act of 1970 is a law that governs child custody cases in Michigan. One of the best interest factors authorizes a judge to provide relief in equity. Best Interest factor (l) provides that a judge should examine: “Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute” when deciding a child custody case. (See: MCL 722.23(l)). In simple terms the law instructs a Michigan custody judge to apply the other 11 best interest of the child factors based in law and also consider what is fair or just in awarding child custody in Michigan divorce and Michigan custody cases.
Michigan Divorce law also provides similar statutory instructions for deciding issues in both law and equity in cases involving property division, alimony and to a lessor extent child support.
Our Michigan divorce lawyers and Michigan custody lawyers understand when to apply the law and equity to achieve client’s goals. – Daniel
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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.
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By: Daniel Findling