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MICHIGAN DIVORCE 21: Plaintiff file a motion to enforcement the judgment of divorce.

Plaintiff filed for divorce. Through mediation the parties agreed to settle and defense counsel placed on the record the terms of their settlement.

The parties agreed to the distribution of the funds in defendant’s work-related 401(k). Plaintiff would receive $80,000 not subject to tax, plus $158,750 of pretax funds that would be subject to taxation, for a total of $238,750. Defense counsel advised the court repeatedly that defendant’s 401(k) held $80,000 in after-tax money. The trial court later entered a consent judgment of divorce that mirrored the settlement placed on the record.

Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

A specialist prepared qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs) for entry by the court as required under the judgment. Plaintiff asserted that, upon disbursement, she received a check for only $23,211.82 in tax-free money. Plaintiff received $80,000, but of that she only received $23,211 of after-tax money and $56,788.77 that remained subject to taxation. The specialist concluded that plaintiff should receive an additional $18,910.66 because of the taxation of the disbursement to make her whole under the terms of the judgment.

Motion to Enforce Judgment

Plaintiff file a motion to enforcement the judgment of divorce on the grounds that defendant failed to pay her $80,000 tax free as provided under the judgment. Plaintiff also requested that the court award her attorney fees. Defendant opposed plaintiff’s motion on the ground that the judgment stated that the tax-free funds were merely presumed to be $80,000, and blamed plaintiff for not confirming the actual amount of pretax dollars that were in defendant’s retirement account. Further, defendant denied ever agreeing to pay plaintiff $80,000 in tax free funds because he did not believe that amount existed.

Trial Court

The trial court submitted the matter to a Friend of Court referee who reviewed the transcript of the settlement, the judgment, and the parties’ respective arguments, and concluded that the parties agreed that plaintiff would receive $80,000 of after-tax monies from defendant’s 401(k) and found that she did not receive the full amount.

The referee recommended that the trial court grant plaintiff’s request for enforcement of the judgment and require the parties to comply with its provisions and further recommended that plaintiff’s request for attorney fees be preserved and awarded should plaintiff have to return to court.

The trial court’s order denied defendant’s objections to the referee’s recommendation and affirmed and adopted the recommendation, granted plaintiff’s request for the balance of the retirement funds owed under the judgment and QDRO in the amount of $18,910.66 to be paid by defendant within 30 days of entry of the order.

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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.

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.

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