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DIVORCE 74: Tax debt generated by the sale of business would be divided equally between the parties.

The parties were married for 22 years before plaintiff filed for divorce. They had previously owned a McDonald’s franchise in Michigan and enjoyed a high standard of living. In 2015, they sold the franchise. Attempts at starting new businesses in Florida failed, and eventually the couple moved back to Michigan and filed for bankruptcy. At the time of trial, no significant marital assets remained, and the parties had each obtained employment. The parties had nine children together. Only the four youngest children remained minors when judgment was entered, and those children resided with plaintiff.

Custody of Children

The trial court concluded that the parties could not agree on anything related to parenting and that plaintiff would have sole legal custody of the minor children. The trial court also awarded plaintiff primary physical custody of the children. Defendant was granted limited unsupervised parenting time, mainly eight daytime hours every other Sunday. The trial court found that both parties were employed, and that spousal support was not warranted.

Tax Debt

The court additionally determined that a tax debt generated by the sale of the McDonald’s franchise would be divided equally between the parties.

This debt was incurred from the sale of the McDonald’s restaurant and the parties chose to invest the proceeds in a failed business venture rather than paying the taxes due on the sales proceeds. Plaintiff claims that this debt should be Defendant’s debt alone since he controlled the finances and she had little input on what happened with the money gained from the sale. The court disagrees and finds that she cannot enjoy the fruits of the marital business decisions for 17 years and then disavow herself the debt that comes from those same business decisions. The court would find that each party is equally responsible for the tax debt.

Legal Assistance with Michigan Divorces

In order to protect your parental and financial rights, it is important to have an experienced and understanding divorce attorney by your side at every step of the way. If your divorce is not resolved before trial, we have the courtroom skills and experience to help you obtain the best possible outcome.

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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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