DIY Fixes Part 3 – Judgment Language Issues
When entering into any contract, settlement, or other agreement, it is important that people understand what they are agreeing to and fully comprehend the legal consequences of the agreement. As attorneys experienced in the law, we understand the necessity of words and the issues that arise when agreements are vague, ambiguous, or contain other drafting errors. Such errors may be harmless, but more often than not they can significantly affect a person’s rights under the agreement.
One client approached recently approached us with questions regarding enforcing a judgment of divorce. The judgment was drafted by the attorney for the client’s former spouse and client did not have representation and therefore did not have an attorney review the terms of the judgment before agreeing to it. While non-attorneys are certainly capable of reviewing legal documents,there are legal complications involved that lay people may not catch. Attorneys like the attorneys at Your Virtual Attorney have read thousands of judgments and understand the complexities of family law. Every day we draft, review and negotiate documents to protect our client’s interests. In this case, the client was not protected by the language used and was unable to catch it due to legal inexperience.
Pursuant to the judgment, the client’s former spouse was awarded the marital home and was required to attempt to refinance the outstanding mortgage in order to remove the client’s name and put it in their own name. While this seems straightforward, the judgment did not address what would occur if the former spouse was unable to refinance. The client did not think beyond the refinance requirement and missed the lack of recourse should the former spouse not qualify. Since this is a somewhat common issue in the divorce world, an experienced attorney would have noticed and addressed that. Generally, attorneys will include language regarding a refinance, indicating a time period to complete the refinance and ordering a sale if the party does not qualify. Remaining on the mortgage impacts a person’s finances and restricts their ability to borrow. Therefore, this language is necessary to provide solutions so that this situation doesn’t go on in perpetuity.
Normally, when a party is not complying with the terms contained in a judgment, a party can file a motion to enforce the judgment and bring the issue in front of the judge. In this client’s case, the court is limited in what they can order because the former spouse is complying with the judgment even though the attempt is failing. The client is sort of in a holding pattern, hamstrung by this mortgage obligation, and without many options. This situation could have been avoided if the client took the time to have an attorney review the judgment. Experienced divorce attorneys understand the nuance involved with divorce issues and can quickly spot problems with judgment language.
A meeting with an experienced Michigan attorney could have saved the client the ongoing difficulties. At Your Virtual Attorney, we can review any legal documents to make sure that you are protected and explain and detail confusing language to ensure that you understand what your rights and obligations are pursuant to that document. Our experienced attorneys can assist clients throughout Michigan with estate planning, divorce and family law, real estate matters, and more. Please contact us today at https://michiganonlineattorney.com/.