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FAMILY LAW 90: Loss of longtime pediatrician was sufficient to justify addressing legal custody.

In this case, the parties were awarded joint legal custody of WPS, with plaintiff awarded physical custody of WPS. The parties had ongoing disputes regarding medication, scheduling medical appointments, virtual schooling, and extracurricular activities for WPS.

Parenting Disputes

Specifically, the parties disagreed (1) whether one of WPS’s medications was prescribed for every day, or only recommended on an as-needed basis; (2) whether plaintiff was permitted to schedule medical appointments for WPS without defendant’s approval, because defendant wanted to go to the appointments, but would not give plaintiff his work schedule; (3) the extent to which defendant worked with WPS on his schoolwork, and whether defendant should obtain the relevant passwords to log WPS into his schooling from defendant’s computer instead of relying on the laptop sent by plaintiff; and (4) whether plaintiff was permitted to enroll WPS in horseback riding lessons, without financial assistance from defendant, regardless of whether defendant consented to the activity.

Of specific importance, plaintiff scheduled a well check-up with WPS’s pediatrician for WPS but defendant asserted she had to change the date because he could not attend. Plaintiff refused, and defendant called the pediatrician after the appointment telling them he was going to sue them. Defendant’s actions resulted in the pediatrician’s office terminating its relationship with WPS.

Modify Custody and Parenting Time

These disagreements culminated in plaintiff’s motion to modify custody and parenting time, seeking an award of sole legal custody and to change defendant’s parenting time to the same number of days, but different days of the week, to correlate with defendant’s days off work because defendant was not spending all his parenting time with WPS.

Change in Circumstance

The trial court determined the change in circumstances involving WPS’s loss of his longtime pediatrician was sufficient to justify addressing legal custody. However, the trial court determined there were no changed circumstances warranting a review of parenting time because the only evidence provided was plaintiff’s allegation defendant was not home during his parenting time, which was not established by any persuasive evidence.

Trial Court Findings

The trial court addressed the best interest factors, under MCL 722.23, and found most to be neutral, but some to weigh in plaintiff’s favor. Specifically, the trial court noted defendant’s participation in WPS’s education was less than plaintiff’s and although both parents were able to provide for WPS’s material needs, plaintiff was more capable of providing medical care; thus, this factor weighed in favor plaintiff.

The trial court discussed the difference between the parties’ care for WPS’s medical needs, noting plaintiff was much more involved and defendant’s refusal to provide his schedule contributed to his own frustrations regarding his lack of involvement. The trial court was also concerned with defendant’s video recording of WPS’s medical appointments without the providers’ consent and defendant’s improper behavior with WPS’s medical providers.

Considering these facts, the trial court found clear and convincing evidence demonstrated the parties should retain joint legal custody, and parenting time should remain the same. However, the trial court gave plaintiff the exclusive right to make medical appointments and medical decisions for WPS and required defendant to administer WPS’s medication as prescribed or directed by WPS’s doctor.

The trial court ordered that the parties could enroll WPS in extracurricular activities during their own parenting time, and at their own expense.

Help with Child Custody & Parenting Time

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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.

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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