In Radulovich v Kaufman decided on May 26, 2005, the Michigan Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s decision that because three of a minor child’s four joint legal custodians made a decision that it was in the best interest of the child to attend an expensive private boarding school that the child would attend despite his father’s objections.
Citing Lombardo v Lombardo, 202 Mich App 151, 159 (1993), the court held that where joint custodians cannot agree on important matters such as education, it is the court's duty to determine the issue in the best interests of the child. Because the trial court relied solely upon the decision made by the child’s paternal grandparents and mother, who shared joint legal custody with the father, and failed to consider or to explicitly state its findings as to the child's best interests in this custody dispute as required by MCL 722.23, the court reversed the trial court.
Further, the court of appeals reversed the trial court’s order that the father, who earned $2,040 per week compared to the mother’s $1,020, should pay for two thirds of the monthly tuition of $5,665. (It sounds like this was some kind of expensive alternative to a public reform school). Although the disparity in income of the two parents might have compelled a 2/3 for father, 1/3 for mother split of the cost of the school, the trial court deviated substantially from the Support Guidelines without considering the father’s contribution to the college expenses of another child of the parties. This was error requiring reversal and remand.
Do you need help with a school choice, child custody modification case? Find a Michigan Family Lawyer near you.