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FAMILY LAW 80: The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion to change domicile.

This case concerns a custody dispute between plaintiff and defendant related to their minor child, KSJ. Plaintiff and defendant were in an on and off relationship for approximately six years, having broken up in approximately 2017.

Consent Judgment

In July 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint for child support from defendant. In October 2016, a consent judgment of support was entered. The consent judgment awarded plaintiff sole physical custody of KSJ, awarded defendant parenting time on an alternating schedule, addressed parenting time for holidays and summer breaks, and ordered defendant to pay child support to plaintiff.

Emergency Motion

In September 2020, defendant filed an emergency motion for change of custody, asserting that plaintiff had been evicted from a residence and had moved into a shelter without notifying defendant of either fact. Defendant also expressed concern that KSJ would become homeless and stated that he could provide a suitable home for her.

Plaintiff responded, indicating the move to the shelter was temporary and that she had informed defendant of her eviction and move. In addition, plaintiff moved for a change of domicile. Plaintiff sought to move to Houghton Lake, where she had been approved for housing assistance for an apartment. Defendant responded, rejecting plaintiff’s suggested parenting-time adjustments because her proposed move was 2½ hours away from defendant.

Friend of the Court

The case was referred to the Friend of the Court for investigation. Friend of the Court counselor submitted a report and recommendation to the trial court, which recommended denying plaintiff’s request for a change of domicile but not changing the current custody. However, that if a change of domicile was granted, defendant should maintain physical custody.

Trial Court

The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion to change domicile. The trial court noted plaintiff’s testimony that the move was designed to provide KSJ with more stability, however, that since the evidentiary hearing, plaintiff’s employment changed again, with her new work hours resulting in frustrating the current parenting time exchange schedule. The trial court also found that there was no testimony regarding the quality of the school district in Houghton Lake or how it compared to KSJ’s current school.

Assistance With Post-Decree Modifications

It is important to remember that decrees regarding child support, child custody, and parenting time are not always final. Circumstances change all the time, which is why it is possible to seek a post-decree modification. Contact Aldrich Legal Services and schedule a free consultation if you would like to meet with one of our lawyers about your case.

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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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