Van v. Van - Decided by the Michigan Court of Appeals ( Unpublished Opinion ) PDF Print E-mail

The court affirmed the trial court’s finding that it had jurisdiction over the parties’ divorce. It also affirmed the trial court’s ruling that the postnuptial agreement signed by the parties was enforceable against the defendant (ex-husband), and remanded so that the trial court may review its findings and clarify the judgment as to the sums to be paid by defendant to the plaintiff (ex-wife) under that agreement. It reversed the trial court’s conclusion that it “lacked the authority to retroactively modify child support” and directed the trial court on remand to consider whether to retroactively modify child support to the date “modification was sought pursuant to MCL 522.603(2).”

It was undisputed that, at the start of the 180-day period, plaintiff was “physically located in Arizona, where she remained until late June/early July of 2012. Thus, for about four-months of the 180-day period, plaintiff was not physically located in Michigan.” Defendant argued that this absence defeated her claim of state residency. Given the particular facts here and the trial court’s credibility findings, the court rejected his argument. This case was directly analogous to Leader. “Like the plaintiff in Leader, plaintiff was absent from Michigan for about four months of the statutory period because of defendant’s actions. However, her testimony clearly indicated that she intended to return to Michigan, that her absence was because she wanted to be away from defendant in order to assure her safety, and that she actually returned to Michigan in accordance with her stated intentions.” Defendant filed a motion for reconsideration and the trial court took more testimony from the parties. Plaintiff testified that in 2/12, “she was physically present in Arizona, her children were going to school in Arizona, she had an Arizona’s driver’s license, she filed her taxes in Arizona, and she voted in a Republican primary in Arizona. Defendant argued that these facts negated her stated intent to return to Michigan. The trial court viewed resolution of the issue as a credibility determination and once again found plaintiff’s testimony” as to her intent to reside in Michigan to be credible and that the reconsideration hearing testimony did not disprove that intent. The court was not left with a definite and firm conviction that the trial court mistakenly found plaintiff satisfied the 180-day state residence requirement of MCL 552.9(1).

 

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