e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 77907
Opinion Date : 07/28/2022
e-Journal Date : 08/15/2022
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Lezotte v. Lezotte
Practice Area(s) : Family Law
Judge(s) : Per Curiam - Markey, Boonstra, and Riordan
Full Text Opinion
Issues:

Divorce; Child custody; Parenting time; MCL 722.27a(3); A trial court’s findings of fact; MCR 2.517(A)(2); MCR 3.210(D); Waiver; Great weight of the evidence; The parenting time factors; MCL 722.27a(7); Shade v Wright; Division of debt; Butler v Simmons-Butler

Summary

The court held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by granting defendant-ex-husband limited unsupervised parenting time with the parties’ children, and its division of the marital debt was fair and equitable. The trial court awarded plaintiff-ex-wife sole legal custody and primary physical custody of the children, but granted defendant very limited unsupervised parenting time. It also determined that the parties were equally responsible for a large tax debt. As to plaintiff’s argument that the trial court failed to make sufficient findings about potential harm to the children before deciding to grant defendant parenting time, she could not “complain about the trial court’s failure to make a finding under MCL 722.27a(3) when plaintiff’s counsel did not request a suspension of parenting time and instead asked for supervised parenting time to continue. Effectively, a suspension of defendant’s parenting time was no longer a contested matter, and it would have been odd for the court to have made an express finding under MCL 722.27a(3) given plaintiff’s attorney’s closing argument.” Further, given that the trial court “did not feel the need to make defendant’s parenting time supervised, it is abundantly clear that [it] implicitly found that defendant was not a danger to the children’s physical, mental, or emotional health.” The court also rejected plaintiff’s claim that the trial court’s decision to award defendant unsupervised parenting time was against the great weight of the evidence in light of his conduct and behavior. “[T]he trial court was presented with evidence of two competing narratives: one painting defendant as a scary, abusive, unfit, manipulative, and dangerous person who often acted inappropriately, and one painting him as a loving, caring, fit, and non-abusive person who did not act inappropriately.” The evidence did not “clearly preponderate in the opposite direction from the [trial] court’s implicit conclusion that unsupervised parenting time would not be harmful to the children.” Finally, the court rejected plaintiff’s challenge to the trial court’s ruling as to the tax debt. Plaintiff “claimed that defendant hid financial circumstances from her, but she also acknowledged that sometimes he brought her financial documents to sign and that she attended a meeting in connection with the couple’s bankruptcy.” Affirmed.

Full Text Opinion