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REAL ESTATE 85: Plaintiffs alleged that the property line had changed through adverse possession and acquiescence.

This case arises from a dispute between next-door neighbors over the boundary line between their respective properties. Plaintiffs and defendants each own adjacent parcels of land on a lake. Plaintiff has lived on her parcel since 1982. Defendants moved to their parcel in 2011.

Survey

In 2018, defendants decided that they wanted to plant a row of arborvitaes along the edge of the property line that they shared with plaintiffs, and had a survey conducted to determine the property line. After the survey, defendants realized that several encroachments existed from plaintiffs’ property that would prevent them from planting the arborvitaes. The encroachments included landscaping, a well, a brick path, and two trees.

Adverse Possession and Acquiescence

Defendants’ attorney notified plaintiffs that defendants planned to remove these encroachments so that defendants could plant their arborvitaes.

Plaintiffs sued, arguing that the actual property line was four or five feet over from the legally described property line on defendants’ property. Plaintiffs alleged that the property line had changed through adverse possession and acquiescence. Also, plaintiffs alleged that they had acquired a prescriptive easement through their encroachments.

After plaintiffs sued to quiet title to the disputed area, defendants moved for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(5), (7), (8), and (10). Defendants argued that plaintiffs failed to show that (a) they adversely possessed the disputed area, (b) the parties acquiesced to the historic boundary, and (c) they were entitled to a prescriptive easement. In response, plaintiffs filed a cross-motion for summary disposition under MCR 2.116(C)(10).

Evidence

Plaintiffs provided evidence indicating that from 1982 until 2018, members of plaintiffs’ household, defendants, and defendants’ predecessors acted as if the property line were a straight line running from a fence post on the road in front of their respective properties to the edge of plaintiffs’ garden on the lake shore. Plaintiffs, or members of their household, installed the brick path, the well, the cherry tree, the cypress tree, the garden, and the underground water line and electric line at different points between 1974 and 2018.

Defendants did not file any evidence to contest plaintiffs’ evidence.

After a hearing on the competing motions for summary disposition, the trial court ruled that plaintiffs were entitled to judgment as a matter of law for the reasons argued in plaintiffs’ cross-motion. It later entered a final order awarding title of the disputed area to plaintiffs. Without dispute, plaintiffs showed that plaintiffs, defendants, and their predecessors in ownership, treated the historic boundary as the actual property line for the requisite statutory period.

Assistance With Real Estate Litigation

Are you involved in a real estate dispute in Michigan? Are you seeking an efficient and effective resolution to a property litigation matter?

If you are facing a residential or commercial real estate, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services in Plymouth.

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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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