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DIVORCE 68: A change that substantially reduces the time a parent spends with a child could potentially cause a change in the established custodial environment.

When the parties divorced, plaintiff was given primary physical custody of HS, and the parties shared joint legal custody. Initially, there was no formal custody order, and the parties decided when defendant had parenting time by mutual agreement. Generally, defendant would exercise two nights of parenting time each week.

Parenting Time Motion

When HS reached school age, defendant filed a motion in the trial court seeking three weekends a month and week on, week off parenting time in the summer. The court ordered that defendant would have parenting time every other weekend from Friday night until Sunday night and the parties would split custody equally during the summer, and the court implemented an expanded holiday schedule as stipulated by the parties.

Defendant argues that the court’s parenting-time order modified the established custodial environment.

Established Custodial Environment

When resolving important decisions that affect the welfare of the child, the court must first consider whether the proposed change would modify the established custodial environment.

A custodial environment can be established in more than on home. A change in the established custodial environment occurs if parenting-time adjustments change whom the child naturally looks to for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort. A change that substantially reduces the time a parent spends with a child could potentially cause a change in the established custodial environment.

If the proposed change alters the established custodial environment, the party seeking the change must demonstrate that the change is in the child’s best interests. Prior to this custody order, defendant would generally have custody of HS for two nights a week, and HS would spend the rest of her time with plaintiff. That, for the most part, continues to be the dynamic. Defendant cites cases in which the parties initially had 50/50 custody, but defendant has never had parenting time that came close to the amount exercised by plaintiff.

The court’s factual findings were adequate to support its order.

Assistance With Custody

If you are going through a divorce, it is important to protect your custodial rights. If the divorce or separation process does not turn out like you thought it would, you may not have the custody or parenting time you deserve.

Seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family law and divorce attorney who will be by your side every step of the way.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

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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