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FAMILY LAW 79: Plaintiff did not achieve the status of natural parent.

Plaintiff and defendant were not married to each other. During the relationship, defendant underwent in-vitro fertilization and gave birth to a child. The parties agree that plaintiff has no biological relationship to the child, and that after the child was born plaintiff did not adopt the child.

Joint Custody

In her complaint, plaintiff alleged that after the child was born both parties parented the child, even after the parties’ relationship ended.  According to plaintiff, in 2017 defendant demanded that plaintiff have no further contact with the child. In 2020, plaintiff filed action for joint legal and physical custody of the child and argued that the child’s best interests were supported by the parties sharing custody.

Plaintiff argues that she has standing to seek custody under the CCA because the parties were equitably married at the time the child was conceived and born, and she therefore is the child’s natural father.

Child Custody Act of 1970

In Michigan, the Child Custody Act of 1970 (CCA) governs custody, parenting time, and child support issues for minor children; it is the exclusive means by which to pursue child custody rights.

In her answer to the complaint, defendant asserted that plaintiff lacked standing to seek custody of the child under the CCA because she had neither a biological nor adoptive relationship with the child. Defendant thereafter moved for summary disposition of plaintiff’s complaint under MCR 2.116(C)(5) and (8), asserting that plaintiff lacked standing to seek custody of the child and had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.

Natural Parent

The CCA defines parent as the natural or adoptive parent of a child. The Court has defined natural parent as meaning that the person is a parent related to the child by blood rather than by adoption. In addition, a person may also be deemed a natural parent under the equitable-parent doctrine. However, the court specifically declined to extend the equitable-parent doctrine outside the context of marriage.

The CCA defines a third person as an individual other than a parent. Under the CCA, a third person does not have standing by virtue of the fact that he or she resides with the child and has a ‘personal stake’ in the outcome of the litigation. Further, a third person may not create a custody dispute by simply filing a complaint in circuit court alleging that giving legal custody to the third party is in the child’s best interests.

The court determined that plaintiff in this case is not a parent of the child. The trial court granted defendant’s motion and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint with prejudice.

Child Custody & Support

Aldrich Legal Services assists parents with all types of child support and custody matters, including, relocation, petitioning for or contesting modifications, enforcing child support orders and negotiating child support agreements.

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MICHIGAN WILLS/TRUSTS 33: Trustees required to provide notice informing recipients that they may challenge the validity of a trust and the period allowed for bringing such a challenge.

The notice sent clearly advised her that if she wanted to contest the validity of the Trust in a judicial proceeding, the law required her to do so within six months from the date of the letter. Nothing in the statute requires a trustee to inform the recipients of the specific legal consequences of not acting during the time allowed.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 97: The court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff.

The trial court found that plaintiff sustained her burden of establishing that a constructive trust was necessary to prevent defendant from being unjustly enriched. Accordingly, the court imposed a constructive trust on defendant’s one-half interest in the property in favor of plaintiff and ordered defendant to convey his interest in the property to plaintiff.

MICHIGAN REAL ESTATE 95: Property owners did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves.

When the delivery of a deed is contingent upon the happening of some future event, title to the subject property will not transfer to the grantee until the event has occurred. However, in this case A and J did not place a condition upon the delivery of the deed; rather, they delivered the deed to themselves, then deposited the deed with their attorney with the instruction to record the deed only upon the happening of a future event, thereby placing a condition only upon the recording of the deed.

MICHIGAN PROBATE 57: Brother granted permanent guardianship of siblings.

At a multiday hearing to address the extension of the guardianship, the eldest children, the mother’s relatives and friends, and school personnel testified regarding the mother’s care of the children, appellant’s treatment of and interaction with the children, and the eldest siblings’ role in aiding the mother to raise the children.

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.

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