734-359-7018
Now Accepting New Clients!
Blog

DIVORCE 55: THE COURT HELD THAT THERE WAS INDISPUTABLE EVIDENCE OF A CHANGE OF CIRCUMSTANCES ALLOWING PLAINTIFF TO MODIFY HIS SPOUSAL SUPPORT

Plaintiff and defendant were divorced in February 2016. The divorce judgment, entered in February 2016, required plaintiff to pay defendant $3,500 per month in spousal support until her death, remarriage, or further order of the court. The judgment additionally indicated that “[s]pousal support and any provision of spousal support are modifiable, except that, in the event Plaintiff receives Inheritance, this shall not be a change of circumstances or proper cause for Defendant to petition the court to increase spousal support.” Under the terms of the judgment of divorce, either party could petition the court for modification of spousal support when defendant reached the age of 62, notwithstanding anything in the judgment to the contrary. In December 2017, plaintiff moved in the trial court to modify his spousal support obligation because of the change in his income due to his companies going out of business. At the hearing on the motion, plaintiff argued that his income had decreased significantly and that he could no longer afford to make the full monthly payment of spousal support. Defendant responded by arguing that the financial instability of plaintiff’s companies was known to plaintiff at the time of divorce; therefore, the inevitable collapse of the companies did not and could not constitute a change of circumstances. The trial court concluded that there had been no change of circumstances warranting modification of support because at the time of the divorce, plaintiff had known about the dire economic situation that his businesses were in and the possibility of liquidation.

ANALYSIS

Plaintiff argues that the trial court abused its discretion when it concluded that no change of circumstances had occurred and denied his motion for modification of spousal support on the sole basis of its determination that plaintiff knew that his businesses were failing when the divorce judgment was entered. This Court reviews the trial court's factual findings relating to the award or modification of spousal support for clear error. There must be an evaluation of the circumstances as they exist at the time modification is sought, as compared to the facts and circumstances that existed at the time the divorce judgment was entered. Again, the trial court found that, at the time of the divorce, plaintiff had known that his companies were financially unstable and would have to be liquidated. Plaintiff testified that he did not believe when settling the case that he would be able to pay $3,500 a month until defendant reached age 62. Plaintiff also testified that he insisted on inclusion of the modification provision so that the spousal support amount could be adjusted if he were not able to pay in the future. He was not asked, and did not testify, about how long he anticipated he could meet the $3,500 monthly obligation. Nevertheless, the trial court viewed as dispositive plaintiff’s concession that he knew at the time of the divorce that he would have to invoke the modification provision at some point before defendant reached age 62. The trial court indicated that having this belief and still signing the divorce judgment bordered on fraud on plaintiff’s part. This accusation was not deserved or appropriate. The record reflected that defendant was also aware of the financial difficulties of the businesses at the time of mediation, yet she agreed to the inclusion of a modification provision with respect to spousal support. Plaintiff’s belief that the modification provision would have to be employed at some point in the future did not eliminate his ability to rely on it once a change of circumstances actually occurred. Additionally, the fact is that the companies had not yet been dissolved when the divorce judgment was entered; consequently, their subsequent dissolution was indeed a new fact and constituted a change of circumstances. Furthermore, the trial court should have considered whether plaintiff’s financial situation deteriorated beyond the extent that he expected when he signed the divorce judgment.

CONCLUSION

We hold that the evidence indisputably established the presence of new facts and a change of circumstances when comparing the facts and circumstances as they existed at the time of divorce to the facts and circumstances as they existed when plaintiff moved to modify his spousal support obligation. The threshold having been satisfied, trial court must now determine an amount of spousal support that is fair and equitable under the circumstances.

ADVICE TO CLIENTS FACING SPOUSAL SUPPORT ISSUES IN DIVORCE CASES

Aldrich Legal Services understands what a stressful time this is for you when you have spousal support issues.

Aldrich Legal Services represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of family law related matters.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

 

FAMILY LAW 83: A trial court can terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child.

A trial court has discretion to terminate a parent’s rights and permit a stepparent to adopt a child when the conditions of MCL 710.51(6) are met. MCL 710.51(6)(b) requires the petitioner to establish that the other parent had the ability to visit, contact, or communicate with the children, and substantially failed or neglected to do so for a period of two years.

PROBATE 53: The trust agreement included an Incontestability Provision.

A settlor’s intent is to be carried out as nearly as possible. Generally, in terrorem clauses are valid and enforceable. However, a provision in a trust that purports to penalize an interested person for contesting the trust or instituting another proceeding relating to the trust shall not be given effect if probable cause exists for instituting a proceeding contesting the trust or another proceeding relating to the trust.

FAMILY LAW 82: Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order (PPO) after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

However, the trial court concluded that these matters should, in fact, be in the province and the jurisdiction of the Family Division and in that respect, having issued a personal protection order, the Court stated it would terminate the personal protection order after the parties present documentation of the initiation of the divorce proceedings.

What to Do When Homeowners Insurance Denies Your Claim

Since 1955, homeowners insurance has helped owners protect their property and belongings against damages and theft. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 93% of homeowners in the US have homeowners insurance coverage, paying around...

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

Originally posted on 10/20/2017 If you are charged with a crime, you could face severe penalties that could include financial fines, public service, or even jail time. For those in the Michigan area, hiring an attorney experienced in...

PROBATE 51: Trust filed a petition to determine title to credit union account.

The probate court explained that the owners of the account are S and J. When S passes, J becomes the owner of the account. J is the one who had the authority to make the designation. Nowhere in any documents is there a designation by J that SJ be the owner -- or the beneficiary of the account. The designation made by his father was no longer binding because he was no longer the owner at the time J passed away.

Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent

Originally posted on 07/19/2017 While the “right to remain silent” represents one of your most inalienable rights, many people have a few misconceptions about how it works. Many people receive their understanding of this...

Arrests made by tracking cell phones may be illegal

Originally posted on 02/10/2017 Law enforcement agencies are always looking for an edge in fighting crime. As cell phones have become an indispensable part of life for many people, authorities have taken to using these devices to track...

Could I lose my job over a drunk driving arrest?

Originally posted on 01/20/2017 When potential clients ask us questions about criminal defense representation (particularly for drunk driving offenses) one of the most common is whether they will lose their job.  Naturally, this...

FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482
734-366-4405