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DIVORCE 65: Both parties were ordered to cooperate with the supervised parenting time and reunification therapy.

In this case the mother and father were married, and they had three children.

Domestic Violence

The father was charged with assault by strangulation, assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder, and three counts of fourth-degree child abuse. Those charges arose generally out of father’s commission of domestic violence against mother, during which he pushed mother against a stove, placed his hands around her throat, and attempted to strangle her in front of the children. The children told teachers, Children’s Protective Services, and therapists that father attempted to choke mother.

Father Sentenced to Jail Time

It was also discovered that father was in the practice of physically abusing the children: he would grab and squeeze their heads as a method of discipline and control, and he would throw objects at them. Father entered a plea of guilty to attempted assault by strangulation, and the other charges were dismissed. The father was sentenced to jail time, community service, and probation. In the meantime, plaintiff filed for divorce, and the children were enrolled in therapy.

Supervised Parenting Time and Reunification Therapy

The trial court entered a consent judgment of divorce, awarding sole legal and physical custody of the children to mother, but awarding father supervised parenting time. Both parties were ordered to cooperate with the supervised parenting time and reunification therapy, and to refrain from estranging the children from or prejudicing the children against the other parent. The judgment of divorce specifically provides under the Rights of the Children, that the parents shall endeavor to guide the child to promote an affectionate relationship between the children and the father and the children and the mother.

When You Need to Protect Your Parental Rights

We act quickly when allegations of domestic violence are made to file for or contest personal protection orders. If you are going through a divorce or are separating from the mother or father of your children, it is important to protect your custodial rights.

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FAMILY LAW 88: The trial court found that the children did not have an established custodial environment with defendant because, before the separation, he did not have a large role in the children’s lives.

The trial court credited plaintiff’s testimony that, before the parties’ separation, defendant spent minimal time helping to care for the children, so its finding that the children would not have looked to defendant for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort during that time was not against the great weight of the evidence.

REAL ESTATE 89: RM had not included any language in the deed providing that the property was a joint tenancy with full rights of survivorship, the property instead became a tenancy in common.

RM drafted the deed without seeking counsel and mistakenly believed that, if either she or FK died, the property would fully pass to the surviving tenant. FK’s will provided that if his wife predeceased him—which she did—the personal representative of his estate should sell any residual property that he owned and divide the cash proceeds equally among his surviving children.

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.

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