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MICHIGAN FAMILY LAW 95: Trial court denied the defendant’s motion and granted plaintiff $1,250 in attorney fees.

In January 2017, plaintiff petitioned for divorce and for sole custody of the children, alleging defendant was unable to effectively parent the children because of her alcoholism. Defendant, who entered inpatient treatment in March 2017, failed to file an answer. A default was entered. The judgment awarded plaintiff sole legal and physical custody of the children. Defendant’s parenting time was suspended.

Parenting Time

Defendant began to demonstrate consistent improvement in June 2018, and she was ultimately permitted to have unsupervised parenting time with the children. In October 2019, defendant moved for a change of custody, but the motion was denied because defendant failed to establish proper cause or a change of circumstances. Defendant continuously requested increased parenting time, and plaintiff opposed defendant’s requests.

Guardian ad litem (GAL)

In July 2020, the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) to investigate and make a recommendation. The GAL recommended the children and the parties attend therapy and the parties ultimately stipulated to this recommendation. The parties also stipulated to defendant being granted additional parenting time and agreed to certain parameters concerning the children’s extracurricular and sport activities, which was memorialized in a stipulated order.

Motion for Joint Legal Custody

In April 2022, defendant moved the trial court to grant joint legal custody. Defendant argued plaintiff consistently sought to alienate the children from her despite her continued sobriety. Defendant also argued plaintiff failed to attend to the children’s mental health needs, which further contributed to the children’s alienation from her, and had unilaterally changed the children’s schools. Plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing defendant could not establish proper cause or a change of circumstances. Plaintiff requested sanctions, arguing defendant’s motion contained arguments that had already been addressed by the trial court.

Trial Court

The trial court heard oral arguments on April 27, 2022. On April 29, 2022, the trial court denied the defendant’s motion and granted plaintiff $1,250 in attorney fees. There had not been a significant change of circumstances since entry of the April 5, 2017 judgment, and defendant failed to establish proper cause.

In sum, defendant’s relationship with the children had not materially changed between April 2017 and April 2022, and defendant’s attempts to blame this on plaintiff’s failure to keep the children in therapy throughout the pendency of the proceeding is not persuasive. The record evidence supports defendant’s strained relationship with the children was likely caused by her actions. While defendant complains plaintiff failed to consult her about the children’s schools, plaintiff was not required to do so because he was the sole legal custodian.

The court recognize that defendant has made great strides in her sobriety. But the Child Custody Act requires courts to focus on the best interest of the children and to provide a stable environment for children that is free of unwarranted custody changes.

Legal Assistance with Custody

If you are going through a divorce or are separating from the mother or father of your children, it is important to protect your custodial rights. If the divorce or separation process does not turn out like you thought it would, you may not have the custody, visitation or child support you deserve.

Seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family law and divorce attorney who will be by your side every step of the way.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

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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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