e-Journal Summary

e-Journal Number : 29889
Opinion Date : 12/20/2005
e-Journal Date : 01/03/2006
Court : Michigan Court of Appeals
Case Name : Ottevaere v. Tweddle
Practice Area(s) : Family Law, Personal Protection Orders
Judge(s) : Per Curiam – Fitzgerald, O’Connell, and Kelly
Full Text Opinion

Entry of a PPO prohibiting the respondent-ex-husband from contacting the petitioner-ex-wife by telephone with the exception of calling the parties’ children at a prescheduled time; Criminal contempt order for violating the PPO; Whether the PPO was so vague compliance was impossible; Butler v. Butler; Burden of proof; Brandt v. Brandt; Whether competent evidence supporting the finding respondent willfully disregarded the PPO; Whether the trial court erred in failing to contact the trial court having jurisdiction over custody and parenting time issues before issuing the PPO (MCR 3.706(C)); Whether the trial court erred by failing to notify respondent of certain matters as required by MCR 3.708(D); Sentencing


The court rejected the respondent-ex-husband’s argument the PPO was so vague it was impossible to comply with, concluding a reasonable person could easily understand the telephone calls respondent made would violate the PPO. The PPO language clearly indicated respondent could only call the parties’ children at prearranged times. The PPO did not prohibit him from contacting the petitioner-ex-wife by e-mail, in writing, or by means of a third-party intermediary. He understood the relevant directives of the PPO. He admitted he heard petitioner express her preference for e-mail communication during the hearing to enter the PPO, and admitted to knowing other forms of communication were available to him. The trial court’s finding respondent willfully violated the PPO was supported by competent evidence. The PPO precluded him from contacting petitioner by phone, yet only days after it was issued, he called and left a recorded message directed at the children, and then he called back the next day, after making acceptable e-mail arrangements concerning holiday plans, and asked her to put the children on the phone. At the time, a telephone visitation schedule was not yet in place. Affirmed.


Full Text Opinion