Children & Moving in Michigan

888081_20053488         Our firm sees people on a regular basis that want to change custody.   Michigan law requires “Proper Cause and/or Changed Circumstances”.   Some parents think that it is proper to just move if it means a better job for them and a financial better life, but in some cases this could be a violation of Michigan law and the move could create a “Changed Circumstances” for the other parent to seek a change of custody.

         The Law Offices of Steven A Heisler, Esq, PLLC can guide a parent through the request to move or take steps if a parent moves the children in violation of MCL 722.31.

         In February 2015, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided in an unpublished opinion that “a move by the custodial parent in violation of MCL 722.31 constitutes a change in circumstance that authorizes the trial court to reopen the custody matter.” While the February 2015 decision was unpublished and not binding on other courts, the decision the 2015 Court relied on was based on a Michigan Appeals Court decision, Sehlke v. Vandermaas, 268 Mich. App. 262 (2005) that is binding on all trial courts in the State of Michigan.

         Michigan family law is complex and one should consult with a competent family law attorney when there will be proposed changes to children of a divorce or custody matter. Just because the case in the trial court is done, the judge still retains jurisdiction over the children (and the parties).

          If the other parent has moved or is talking about moving, or your want to move with your children, you should consult with an attorney with the Law Offices of Steven A Heisler, Esq PLLC to find out your rights and duties as it relates to the children. An error in judgment could result in you losing custody of your children or allow you to seek custody of your children.

Can a Michigan Judge force a couple going through a divorce to file a joint tax return? It depends.

In 2014 this very issue was raised on appeal before the Michigan Court of Appeals. The Court said “… because tax consequences are routinely considered by Michigan courts when exercising their broad discretion in resolving property issues, we hold that it is within the broad discretion of a trial court to compel a party to sign a joint tax return when, under all the circumstances, it is in the best interests of the marital estate …”

The Court further stated the trial court must consider the ability for the court to make up the difference in tax liability through an allocation of property. Is there is no history of tax problems with the requesting spouse. Do the parties have a history of filing joint tax returns during the marriage? And the court must orders the spouse (absent an agreement to do so) to indemnify and hold harmless the reluctant spouse for any resulting tax liability.

While this is not the law in all other states, it is now the law in Michigan as of November 2014. If you want to read the entire opinion, click here.

It should be noted that the Law Offices of Steven Heisler, Esq PLLC was the trial law firm and the firm that handled the appeal where we argued that the Court could order a joint tax return. The other side argued against the idea a trial court could order a joint tax return.   There were also several other issues raised and the Law Offices of Steven Heisler, Esq PLLC was successful on every other area of the appeal.