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FAMILY LAW 21: Defendant challenges awarded grandparenting time to plaintiffs.

Defendant and her ex-husband had two minor children. After the divorce, the father had primary physical custody, and the parents shared legal custody. Further, the father remarried.

The father later died following a motorcycle accident. On the day of his death, plaintiff allowed the children to spend the night at their father’s home with their stepmother. A few days later, plaintiff allowed the children to attend their father’s funeral. Plaintiff also attended the funeral. Afterward, she attempted to take the children with her, but the children’s stepmother and paternal grandparents denied plaintiff access to the children.

The grandparents then filed emergency petitions in the probate court seeking a temporary guardianship over the children. The probate court held a hearing on the petitions, and plaintiff attended without counsel. The probate court granted the petitions, appointing the grandparents as temporary guardians.

Plaintiff then obtained counsel and filed a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that the grandparents lacked standing because she never gave permission for the children to reside with them.

The circuit court then awarded defendant sole legal and physical custody of the minor children and awarded grandparenting time to plaintiffs.

None of the parties challenged the award of custody to defendant, but both plaintiffs and defendant challenged the portion of the order concerning the award of grandparenting time. Defendant argued that the circuit court erred when, after awarding her sole physical and legal custody of the children, it awarded plaintiffs grandparenting time without following the procedures set out in MCL 722.27b to determine whether plaintiffs are entitled to grandparenting time.

In a lengthy analysis, the Court of Appeals discussed the history of the grandparenting-time statute, MCL 722.27b, and the interplay and differences between a custody decision and a grandparenting-time decision.  It concluded that the trial court should not have decided the grandparenting-time issue at the same time as the custody issue. A request for grandparenting time is not automatically included in a third-party request for custody.  The trial court could not consider such a request until the grandmother brought a separate motion under MCL 722.27b(3).

The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court in this case erred when it awarded plaintiffs grandparenting time.

At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of custody-related matters. We understand how important custody-related matters are, which is why we will work hard to help you achieve a positive outcome.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

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