All Rights to Lyrics and Video Owned by Estate of Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra used to be right. His song “Love and Marriage” reflected the norm in the 1950s and 1960. Today’s societal norms fall far short from this ideal. Just when I think I have heard everything, someone proves me wrong. This Post is dedicated to James P. Ryan, Family Law Attorney in Plymouth, Michigan, who brought a case decided yesterday to my attention.
The case shows some or all of these: (a) When people represent themselves, they can make stupid mistakes; (b) There are some people out there who will do anything to avoid an order for child support, including to bastardize their children ; (c) Many people think nothing of letting taxpayers support their children, even though they have the capacity, if not willingness, to do so; and (d) As Family Lawyers have been saying for a long time: “You just can’t make this up!!”
A case was decided on June 30, 2016 by the Michigan Court of Appeals [For Publication] making clear that parties may not avoid paying child support by denying the existence of children of the parties who were born prior to the marriage. Of course, this is very important not only to the children involved, but also to society. The courts and DHHS exist in part to ensure that parents support their children rather than society!
Husband, Johnnie James Tyler II (Husband or “H”), and his wife were married to each other in 2005. Three children were born to them during this marriage. They divorced in 2010, and later remarried. On February 25, 2015, Husband files a DO complaint [DO meaning “no minor children”]. He does acknowledge the earlier case, stating that there are no minor children “from this current marriage.” Wife does not answer H’s Complaint, but in the same court, she files a Complaint for Divorce disclosing the three minor children on March 4th.
H being alerted that W wants child support, files for entry of default, and the default was entered. However, once the court learned about the children, the court set aside the default, and dismissed the husband’s action. Husband appealed.
A Michigan Court Rule, MCR 3.206(A)(5)(b) requires the complaint to state “whether there are minor children of the parties or minor children born during the marriage” so that DHHS and the Friend of the Court can get a support case going.
What does the Trial Court do? It sets aside the default. It holds that the Court Rule has two categories—“whether there are minor children of the parties” and “minor children born during the marriage.” These two categories are separated by the disjunctive “or,” and establish overlapping but not coextensive domains. The rule clearly includes children who do not fall into the “minor children born during the marriage” category, such as children of the parties born before the marriage and adopted children.
The Court of Appeals affirms the trial court’s decision dismissing H’s complaint for divorce because H failed to conform to the Court Rule that required him to disclose all children falling into either category. Giving maximum support to people filing in pro per? This may cost Michigan trial courts more in time and personnel costs to filter out baloney like this.
This case (For Publication] may be seen here: Download Tyler_v_Tyler