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FAMILY LAW 76: Court issues PPOs for conduct that is prohibited under Michigan’s stalking statute.

Petitioner and respondent were previously married and were divorced at the time that the petitions were filed. Respondent’s parental rights to both RP and HP were terminated in May 2018. Respondent had little to no contact with the minor children between 2015 and 2019 and had no contact with the children from May 2018 until November 2019.

Petition for PPOs

In February 2020, petitioner filed two separate petitions seeking ex parte PPOs against respondent on behalf of her minor children, RP and HP. In the petitions, petitioner alleged that respondent attended four of HP’s basketball games in November 2019, December 2019, and February 2020. Petitioner asserted that respondent stood up in the stands during the games and tried to intimidate HP. Petitioner asserted that the children exhibited mental distress after seeing respondent at the games.

The trial court entered an ex parte PPO against respondent on behalf of both minor children.

Motion to Terminate PPOs

Respondent moved to terminate the personal protection orders in March 2020, arguing that the trial court erred by issuing the PPOs. Specifically, respondent argued that the PPOs could not be issued against him under MCL 600.2950(26)(b) because he was the parent of the unemancipated minor children and that the allegations in the petitions were insufficient to support the issuance of the ex parte PPOs.

Following a motion hearing, the trial court denied respondent’s motion to terminate the PPOs. The trial court rejected respondent’s argument that the PPOs were improperly granted because of MCL 600.2950(b) and concluded that MCL 600.2950(26)(b) did not preclude it from issuing the PPOs because respondent’s parental rights had been terminated. The court also concluded that the ex parte PPOs were appropriately granted.

PPO Issued for Stalking Conduct

Under MCL 600.2950(4), the trial court is required to issue a PPO if it determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that the individual to be restrained or enjoined may commit 1 or more of the acts listed in [MCL 600.2950(1)]. MCL 600.2950(1)(j) allows a court to restrain individuals from engaging in conduct that is prohibited under MCL 750.411h, Michigan’s stalking statute.

Assistance with Family Law Disputes

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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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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.

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