On March 12, 2020, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case of Negron vs. Watts. In this Michigan custody action, the mother argued on appeal that the court lacked child custody jurisdiction to decide the case. Therefore, the final custody and parenting time order granting father sole legal and physical custody of the parties’ children should be set aside.
Under the UCCJEA a Michigan court has child custody jurisdiction only if:
1) Michigan is the home state of the child on the date of commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within six months before commencement of the proceeding and the child is absent from Michigan but a parent continues to live in Michigan;
2) a foreign court does not have jurisdiction by reason of the child’s residency, or the court of the home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction on the basis that Michigan is the more appropriate forum, and the child and his parents have a significant connection with Michigan other than mere physical presence, and substantial evidence is available in Michigan concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships;
3) all courts having jurisdiction have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the basis that Michigan is the more appropriate forum, or;
4) no court of another state has jurisdiction. MCL 722.1201(1).
Simply put, child custody jurisdiction in Michigan exists if the child has lived in Michigan for 180 days and not other court has jurisdiction.
In the Negron vs. Watts case, the children moved from place the Court of Appeals decided that Michigan was the home state for the children as they lived in the State for more than 180 days (6 months) when the custody action was filed.
It is important to be able to point to the power in the law and in Michigan the power to hear a child custody case is found in the UCCJEA which defines child custody jurisdiction and grants the court the power to decide a Michigan child custody case.
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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The Oakland County Divorce attorneys at Findling Law practice statewide. We share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.
By: Daniel Findling