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The Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not err by denying the defendant-ex-wife's motion for spousal support on the ground that it was premature according to the terms of the parties' consent JOD.

The parties entered into a consent JOD that covered custody and property division. It also reserved the issue of spousal support "until the expiration of four years from the date of entry of this Judgment of Divorce." Defendant later moved for spousal support claiming her circumstances had changed dramatically. The trial court agreed there had a been a substantial change in circumstances, but denied her motion on the ground that it lacked the authority to consider an award of spousal support prior to expiration of the four-year period subsequent to entry of the JOD. On appeal, the court found that the trial court properly interpreted the spousal support reservation clause in the JOD to preclude consideration of a petition for spousal support during the four years following entry of the judgment. It noted the meaning of the clause is that "the trial court will 'defer' (or continue to defer) or 'hold back' its decision on the matter of spousal support 'to' (the specified time of) four years after the date of entry of the parties' JOD. In other words, an award of spousal support is not available until after expiration of the four-year period following entry of the JOD. As the second sentence of the paragraph indicates, the trial court may award spousal support to whichever party is able to show a substantial change in circumstances after expiration of the four-year period. 'Thereafter' refers to after the four-year period, and 'if no spousal support is ordered' clearly suggests its alternative, which is that the trial court may award spousal support after expiration of that period." The court acknowledged that the second sentence is "somewhat vague as written because it does not indicate for how long after expiration of the four years the parties may file a petition for spousal support." However, "both plaintiff and defendant testified at the hearing on defendant's motion for spousal support that, at the time they entered into the consent judgment, each contemplated that the substantial change in circumstances would be something that had occurred during the four-year period."The parties entered into a consent JOD that covered custody and property division. It also reserved the issue of spousal support "until the expiration of four years from the date of entry of this Judgment of Divorce." Defendant later moved for spousal support claiming her circumstances had changed dramatically. The trial court agreed there had a been a substantial change in circumstances, but denied her motion on the ground that it lacked the authority to consider an award of spousal support prior to expiration of the four-year period subsequent to entry of the JOD. On appeal, the court found that the trial court properly interpreted the spousal support reservation clause in the JOD to preclude consideration of a petition for spousal support during the four years following entry of the judgment. It noted the meaning of the clause is that "the trial court will 'defer' (or continue to defer) or 'hold back' its decision on the matter of spousal support 'to' (the specified time of) four years after the date of entry of the parties' JOD. In other words, an award of spousal support is not available until after expiration of the four-year period following entry of the JOD. As the second sentence of the paragraph indicates, the trial court may award spousal support to whichever party is able to show a substantial change in circumstances after expiration of the four-year period. 'Thereafter' refers to after the four-year period, and 'if no spousal support is ordered' clearly suggests its alternative, which is that the trial court may award spousal support after expiration of that period." The court acknowledged that the second sentence is "somewhat vague as written because it does not indicate for how long after expiration of the four years the parties may file a petition for spousal support." However, "both plaintiff and defendant testified at the hearing on defendant's motion for spousal support that, at the time they entered into the consent judgment, each contemplated that the substantial change in circumstances would be something that had occurred during the four-year period."

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.

What to Do When Homeowners Insurance Denies Your Claim

Since 1955, homeowners insurance has helped owners protect their property and belongings against damages and theft. According to the Insurance Information Institute, over 93% of homeowners in the US have homeowners insurance coverage, paying around...

What to Look for in a Criminal Defense Attorney

Originally posted on 10/20/2017 If you are charged with a crime, you could face severe penalties that could include financial fines, public service, or even jail time. For those in the Michigan area, hiring an attorney experienced in...

PROBATE 51: Trust filed a petition to determine title to credit union account.

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.

Invoking Your Right to Remain Silent

Originally posted on 07/19/2017 While the “right to remain silent” represents one of your most inalienable rights, many people have a few misconceptions about how it works. Many people receive their understanding of this...

Arrests made by tracking cell phones may be illegal

Originally posted on 02/10/2017 Law enforcement agencies are always looking for an edge in fighting crime. As cell phones have become an indispensable part of life for many people, authorities have taken to using these devices to track...

Could I lose my job over a drunk driving arrest?

Originally posted on 01/20/2017 When potential clients ask us questions about criminal defense representation (particularly for drunk driving offenses) one of the most common is whether they will lose their job.  Naturally, this...

FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

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