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Can you appeal a divorce settlement in Michigan?

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Divorce

Divorce settlements are legal agreements between divorcing spouses to resolve issues such as property division, child custody, alimony and child support. Divorce settlements become legally binding contracts once finalized and approved by the court.

Divorce is rarely an easy process, and even after reaching a settlement, one party may be left feeling dissatisfied with the terms. In Michigan, there are options available for those who wish to contest the outcome of their divorce settlement.

Understanding appeals vs. modifications

Before diving into appeals, it’s crucial to differentiate them from modifications. An appeal challenges the legal validity of the original judgment, arguing that the court made a mistake in applying the law. In contrast, a modification seeks to adjust existing terms due to a significant change in circumstances, such as job loss or a child’s changing needs.

Grounds for appealing a divorce settlement

Appealing a divorce settlement is a complex process with a high bar for success. The most common basis for appeal is arguing that the judge made a legal error in interpreting or applying Michigan law during the settlement process. This could involve errors in calculating child support, misinterpreting property division statutes or failing to consider relevant legal factors.

Procedural errors are another basis for appealing a divorce settlement. They refer to mistakes made during the court proceedings that may have impacted the outcome. Examples include not receiving proper notice of hearings, not being allowed to present crucial evidence or the judge exhibiting bias towards one party.

If one spouse intentionally concealed assets, lied under oath or otherwise committed fraud during the settlement negotiations, this could also be grounds for appeal. Furthermore, suppose one spouse was under duress or coercion at the time of signing the settlement agreement, such as being threatened or pressured into agreeing to terms against their will. In that case, this may provide grounds for appeal.

Important considerations for appealing a settlement

The Great Lakes State has a strict deadline for filing an appeal – typically 21 days following the final judgment. Missing this deadline can significantly limit an individual’s options.

Moreover, appeals are expensive endeavors involving legal fees and court filing costs. Carefully weigh the financial implications before proceeding. Furthermore, judges have broad discretion in divorce settlements, and appellate courts are reluctant to overturn those decisions unless a clear legal error is demonstrated.

Given the complexities involved, consulting with a reliable legal team can be vital before embarking on an appeal. They can assess an individual’s specific circumstances, advise on the likelihood of success and guide them through the intricate legal procedures involved.