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FAMILY LAW 78: Trial court denied respondent’s motion to terminate the PPO.

Petitioner and respondent are neighbors with an exceptionally contentious relationship. Petitioner sought an ex parte nondomestic PPO against respondent for what she deemed harassing and intimidating behavior by respondent under MCL 600.2950a(1).

Personal Protection Order

The trial court reviewed and granted petitioner’s request for an ex parte PPO. The order did not include specific findings or reasoning as to why the ex parte PPO was issued by the court, even though judicial findings are statutorily required pursuant to MCL 600.2950a, as well as mandated by MCR 3.705(a)(2).

Procedures of personal protective orders:

(1) The court must rule on a request for an ex parte order within one business day of the filing date of the petition.

(2) If it clearly appears from specific facts shown by verified complaint, written petition, or affidavit that the petitioner is entitled to the relief sought, an ex -4- parte order shall be granted if immediate and irreparable injury, loss, or damage will result from the delay required to effectuate notice or that the notice will itself precipitate adverse action before a personal protection order can be issued. In a proceeding under MCL 600.2950a, the court must state in writing the specific reasons for issuance of the order. A permanent record or memorandum must be made of any nonwritten evidence, argument or other representations made in support of issuance of an ex parte order.

Family Court Referee

Respondent moved to terminate the PPO. Respondent asserted that petitioner’s allegations were false. A proceeding on respondent’s motion to terminate was held with a family court referee, not a trial court judge.

The referee presided over a hearing that was more akin to a family court mediation or alternative dispute resolution, as opposed to a formal court hearing. Other than evaluating credibility, the referee made no other factual findings on the record. At the conclusion of the hearing, the referee denied respondent’s motion to terminate to the PPO.

The trial court entered an order adopting the referee’s denial to terminate the PPO. The order stated, in pertinent part, it is ordered that the Respondent’s Motion to Object or Modify Ex-Parte Personal Protection Order entered by this Court, is denied, and the Personal Protection Order shall stay in place for reasons stated on the record. The order stated that it was based on the referee’s findings and recommendations.

Appeal

On appeal, respondent argues that the trial court failed to comply with the procedures set forth under MCR 3.700 and that the trial court abused its discretion by granting the PPO and denying his motion to terminate the PPO.

The trial court failed to comply with the proper procedure for nondomestic PPO proceedings as required under subchapter 3.700 of the Michigan Court Rules. The PPO in this instance was issued ex parte. Accordingly, respondent was entitled to request a hearing challenging the merits of the PPO.

The trial court failed to afford respondent (as well as petitioner) his procedural due process rights because neither party had notice of the de novo review hearing. The appeal court vacated the trial court’s order denying respondent’s motion to terminate and instructed the trial court to enter an order terminating the PPO forthwith and to amend its procedures to comply with MCR 3.700.

Let Us Put Our Experience to Work for You

We act quickly when allegations of domestic violence are made to file for or contest personal protection orders. At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys have the skill and experience you need to address all family law issues that may arise during your divorce

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