Interesting reading today in the slip opinions from the Court of Appeals (COA). In addition to some interesting support issues, the property issue was also an interesting read.
In Griffin v Griffin, Docket No. 271194, an Oakland County case, Husband appealed the property division, disputing the trial court's ("T/C'") award of a stock account and 60/40 distribution of a bank and annuity investment, while giving H 100% of his various businesses.
The COA noted that the T/C found H's business appraiser not credible. In addition, the T/C offered to split everything (including the businesses) 50/50, and H declined. Hmmm. What does that say about H's idea of the value of his businesses?
H also found fault with the calculation of child support, which he said was inflated.
H objected that the T/C did not impute sufficient income to W. H thought that the T/C should have used W's 16 and 17 year old W-2s to establish her income-producing capacity. The COA rejected his position.
H also objected to the use of several years' of his federal taxes returns and income averaging over a period of 3 years to establish his income. Noting that H is self-employed, the COA affirmed the T/C's approval of this income-averaging, further finding support for this in the Michigan Child Support Formula manual, citing to the 2004 MCSF Manual, § 2.01(C), p 9. How many times have we seen self-employed persons having the ability to manipulate their income so that at a time of child support review, the most current IRS return would show a much lower income than in previous years?
H also objected to being ordered to pay 3 years of COBRA health care premiums for W, and the COA said that since he had stipulated to this in Court and had participated in reviewing and revising the judgment of divorce in this regard, he'd waived any right to now complain.
As to spousal support, W cross-appealed the T/C's modification of the original spousal support order on what W claimed was an improper motion. The COA affirmed, stating a that H filed a motion for new trial on this issue, which was timely, attacking the T/C's order for 10 years of spousal support and complaining about the lack of findings of fact to support the award. The T/C then held a hearing and addressed H's concerns. The T/C "admitted that it thought it and needed to address plaintiff’s complaint that there were no findings in the record."
It's unclear from the opinion what modification the T/C made in the number of years for spousal support. What is clear, however, is that on hearing of H's motion, the T/C was careful to articulate findings of fact that would make this alimony award impervious to appeal. Heh! Be careful what you ask for. H's motion for new trial on this issue shredded his appellate parachute.
You can read the Griffin decision here.
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