Shaw Law Group, PLC is a West Michigan Law Firm dedicated to fighting for men in divorce, custody and support cases. Part of our mission is to educate our clients on the issues they are facing so that they make reasoned decisions. Our mission is experienced most by our clients on a day to day basis but is also evident in our content rich web site, shawlg.com which has a wealth of information about divorce and custody basics. To further our mission we are starting this blog to comment on topics that are in the news, recent case law or that are of general interest to men with divorce, custody or support issues. We hope that you find it helpful. If you would like us to address something in particular, please don't hesitate to ask.
Legal Note: The information in this blog is meant as general information and should not be relied on without further consultation with Shaw Law Group,PLC or another qualified attorney.
Recent Case, Koy, Regarding Defaults
The Michigan Court of Appeals' recent opinion in Koy v. Koy regarding defaults brings to mind two questions we are frequently asked by clients and prospective clients. Those questions are "what if I don't cooperate" and "can I do this divorce on my own". The answer to both is "you will probably regret it" because of the courts power to default an unresponsive party. In Koy the court defaulted Mr. Koy because he did not appear for a settlement conference. After defaulting Mr. Koy the court entered the Judgment proposed by Mrs. Koy without any hearing. That judgment provided for non-modifiable spousal support. Any first year associate knows that a judge cannot award non-modifiable spousal support with out approval by both parties. The judge entered the award because he did not read or care about the terms of the Judgment. This is typical; Judges do not generally review Judgments to determine if they are fair. If someone wants the opportunity to have a chance of having a fair Judgment of divorce without going to the Court of Appeals they should cooperate with the court and follow the procedural rules.
Change of Domicile
Change of Domicile
As anyone that follows the news knows, people are leaving Michigan in droves. While I understand that work and family obligations sometimes require a person to move, I don't understand why anyone would leave Michigan, particularly West Michigan, if they had any opportunity to stay. Michigan has wonderful people, a beautiful landscape and many things to see and do. In any event, it happens, people move. Moving is a tough and expensive process. When a dad or a mom only has joint legal custody and the move is out of state or more than 100 miles there is also the expense of getting court approval for the move.
The law concerning moving and officially referred to as change of domicile can be found in the Michigan Court Rules, Michigan's statute, and a decent amount of case law. What you will find in most cases is that the court is inclined to allow a move over the objection of the other parent if it appears that the move is good for the child. Courts can consider anything that will affect the child including standard of living the child will enjoy, the educational and extra-curricular opportunities available to the child, the family relationships available to the child and any other.
Dads should know the following:
1. Mom only has to get court permission to move the child out of state or beyond 100 miles when the dad has joint legal custody. When the dad does not that dad may still be able to stop the move but the burden is on dad to bring their case to the court. SPECIAL NOTE TO DADS WHO'S CUSTODY ORDERS DERIVED FROM CASES STARTED BY PROSECUTORS. It would be wise to consult your custody order because many dads whose custody orders were derived from cases brought by the prosecutor do not provide for joint legal custody.
2. Your relationship with the child is very important to your cases. The court is more willing to allow a move when dad is not very involved with the child. Regularly exercising parenting time, giving Christmas and Birthday presents, participating in school activities and knowing the child's friends all help significantly.
3. If you are the parent that wants to move, plan ahead as much as possible. You will want to gather information about your new area and present a strong case right off the bat. Your child's mother will be more inclined to consent to the move and the court will be more inclined to approve the move over her objection if it is well thought out and presented.
4. If mom moved the child without getting proper approval, you may have a great case to change custody. As anyone that has been show caused for not paying support, the court is not fond of people that fail to follow orders. Bring your case quickly though, if you wait long enough the court will not be as eager to help you.
5. Even if mom does not leave without the proper approval, her request for a change of domicile is a change of circumstances and dad has the opportunity to ask for a change of custody.
Every situation is different so consult us if you are facing a changing of domicile situation.
Bad Divorce Attorney Uses Tazer
A recent Wall Street Journal article took on the issue of divorce in trying economic times. The article does a pretty good job reciting many of the common frustrations. What caught my eye though is the fact that one St. Louis divorce attorney admits to having a Taser Gun in her office and threatening her clients with it. See the article at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704216804575423321156719004.html. Here is some free advice, if your attorney has a Taser because of his or her clients, find a new lawyer. What you really want is an attorney that sees opportunities in a bad economy. While there isn't always a silver lining, it is still smart to look for one.