Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Contempt in the Family Court

Just prior to the July 4th holiday, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided an unpublished case that has caught our eye.  This case, Klass vs Klass, details the custody battle of a family from Midland County.

The case is notable, not because of the incredible dysfunction demonstrated by the parents of the minor children, particularly the mother, but because the guts of this 10-page decision lays out the legal background behind the "contempt of court" sanction in the context of family court.

This blog has noted a trend of recent Court of Appeals cases holding that a parent's selection of a "significant other" can be greatly regulated by the family court.  If a parent elects to ignore a family court's ruling, that parent, as in this case, can be jailed and fined.  These rulings will be upheld by the Court of Appeals.

As a divorce lawyer with 24-years experience, I realize that parents often do not "play fair" in the family court system, and even good parents sometimes lose sight of the true best interests of their children.  It's one thing, however, to have a legitimate difference of opinion as to those interests; it's another thing altogether when a parent places their own interests above those of the children.