Saturday, May 30, 2015

Custody Bills Protect Soldiers

Yesterday, Governor Snyder signed Senate Bill 09 and tied barred House Bills 4071 and 4482 which provide protections for active service members involved in family court child custody proceedings.  The Senate bill stays custody proceedings during a service member's deployment while the House bills provide similar protection relative to court-ordered parenting time.

The new legislation simply amends the Child Custody Act, an oft-amended piece of legislation. The amendments provide service members protection in the form of a stay of proceedings until the period of deployment ends.

In order for the service member to avail himself or herself of the protections of the new laws, that service member must request the stay from the family court. In cases of emergency, a family court judge would still have the power to modify the custody or parenting time of a minor child.

These bills received unanimous support in both legislative chambers, perhaps due to the case of an active duty father who temporarily lost custody of his child while on a 6-month submarine deployment for the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Ocean.

If you or a family member are active duty military and need assistance for a family law matter, contact our law firm for a free consult. We provide fee discounts for active military.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Series of Moves Violates 100-Mile Rule

Earlier this month, the Michigan Court of Appeals again considered the 100-mile rule in a published decision. The case is significant to the extent that it provides parents guidance on the location of their post-divorce domicile and is yet another case that illustrates the concept of joint custody.

In Eickelberg v Eickelberg, the parents were awarded joint legal custody. Father was active military and made two job-related moves after the divorce: first from the former marital home in Clinton Township to Perry, MI 86 miles away; then on to Marshal, MI which was 126 miles from the former marital home. 

Understandably, Father's move complicated his parenting time; especially his mid-week parenting contact with the children.  So he moved the court to modify the parenting schedule and to adjust the parenting transition point to a location closer to his new home in Marshal.

Equally understandably, Mother objected arguing that Father's series of moves violated the 100-mile rule which prohibits a custodial parent from moving to a location more than 100-miles from the child's residence at the time the divorce or custody proceeding was initiated. The Court of Appeals rejected the Macomb County family court's calculation that the miles to be measured were only from the Father's most-recent residence; i.e. from Perry to Marshal.

Since Father's second move was more than 100-miles from Clinton Township, he was required to obtain Mother's approval prior to the move, or the family court should have held a hearing to consider the so-called "change of domicile" factors in order to determine whether the proposed change is in the best interests of the minor children. In addition, to further complicate the legal analysis, because Father's move changed the children's "established custodial environment", the eleven statutory best interest factors also should have been evaluated by the lower court.

Consequently, the case was sent back to the Macomb County family court to conduct such a hearing.

   Clarkston Legal