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REAL ESTATE 91: The Condo Association was entitled to recover fees and costs for all aspects of the proceedings.

In this condominium bylaw enforcement action, the Condo Association alleged bylaw violations by the owners of one of the association’s condominiums. The parties reached a stipulated agreement settling the substantive claims but could not agree regarding attorney fees.

Condominium Act

MCL 559.206(b) of the Condominium Act provides: In a proceeding arising because of an alleged default by a co-owner, the association of co-owners or the co-owner, if successful, shall recover the costs of the proceeding and reasonable attorney fees, as determined by the court, to the extent the condominium documents expressly so provide.

Condominium Bylaws

The condominium documents governing this dispute—the condo association’s Bylaws—expressly allow for the recovery of attorney fees and costs, using language drawn from the Condominium Act. Article XIX, Section 2 of the Bylaws states:

In any proceeding arising because of an alleged default by any Co-owner, the Association, if successful, shall be entitled to recover the costs of the proceeding and such reasonable attorney fees (not limited to statutory fees) as may be determined by the court, but in no event shall any Co-owner be entitled to recover such attorney fees.

Regarding the award of attorney fees, Michigan follows the American Rule, which states that attorney fees are not recoverable as an element of costs or damages unless expressly allowed by statute, court rule, common-law exception, or contract.

Recovery of Attorney Fees

The condo association was entitled to recover fees and costs for all aspects of the proceedings. MCL 559.206(b) provides that the condo association shall recover attorney fees and costs according to the relevant condominium documents, and the Bylaws expressly provide that the condo association may recover the fees and costs for any proceeding arising from an alleged bylaw violation.

Skilled Assistance with Real Estate Litigation

If you are facing a condominium dispute, seek the advice of an experienced and skilled real estate litigation attorney at Aldrich Legal Services. From standard contract disputes to complex commercial property litigation that requires a high level of legal sophistication, you can be confident that your legal matter is in good hands.

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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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The probate court explained that the owners of the account are S and J. When S passes, J becomes the owner of the account. J is the one who had the authority to make the designation. Nowhere in any documents is there a designation by J that SJ be the owner -- or the beneficiary of the account. The designation made by his father was no longer binding because he was no longer the owner at the time J passed away.

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