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MICHIGAN FAMILY LAW 94: Defendant testified that he had the ability to pay child support, but it was impossible for him to do so due to his religion.

In a divorce proceeding, the circuit court ordered defendant to pay child support for his two children beginning. Defendant failed to pay any support.

Felony Warrant

A felony warrant for the failure to pay child support was issued.

At trial, defendant, who represented himself, testified that, while he had the ability to pay the child support, it was impossible for him to do so due to his religion. Moreover, defendant testified that he had prepared paperwork that he thought expunged or nullified the child-support edict. And defendant appeared to question the validity of his marriage along with the proceedings that led up to his divorce. In part, defendant explained that he had not consented to the divorce but was defaulted and later avoided service of the divorce judgment ordering the payment of child support.

Defense of Impossibility

Failure to pay child support is a strict liability crime, and the inability to pay is not a defense. However, the defendant has raised impossibility as a defense. This is an affirmative defense and the defendant has the burden of proving this defense by a preponderance of the evidence. To prove this defense, the defendant must establish that he did everything reasonably possible to provide for his children and to have arranged his finances in such a way that prioritized his parental responsibility in that despite these efforts it was truly impossible for the defendant to comply with the family court order.

The defendant must explore and eliminate all the reasonably possible and lawful avenues of obtaining the revenue to comply with this court order. The defendant has diligently sought employment or that he could have secured additional employment, whether he had investments that could have been liquidated, whether he received gifts or an inheritance, whether he had a home that could have been sold or refinanced, whether he has assets that could have been sold or used as loan collateral, whether he prioritized the payment of child support over the purchase of non-essential items, and whether he took reasonable precautions to guard against financial misfortune and arranged his financial affairs with future contingencies in mind in accordance with one’s parental responsibility to one’s child.

Defendant’s Testimony

Defendant contends that the trial court failed to instruct the jury that his religious belief was a factor to consider under the defense of impossibility. Defendant acknowledges that one’s religious belief is not an explicit factor under the defense of impossibility but contends it should be. Defendant’s testimony was that he could pay child support, but his religion precluded him from entering a civil contract with a secular court by recognizing an order from the State of Michigan directing him to pay it.

Court Decision

This Court held that the state had a compelling interest in the welfare of minor children affected by divorce. The defendant’s general aversion to state involvement in matters affecting his relationship with his children, based on religious grounds, did not outweigh the state’s interest in the welfare of children.

Legal Assistance with Child Support Issues

At the law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of custody-related matters. If you not receiving child support payments or enough child support, we can use our experience and knowledge of family law to help you.

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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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