Michigan Child Custody Act Appeal – O’brien vs. D’Annunzio

On February 27, 2020, a Michigan child custody act appeal was decided by the Court of Appeals in the case, entitled O’brien, Jr., v. D’Annunizio. In the O’brien case, the mother mother appealed the trial court’s order granting the father sole legal and physical custody of the parties’ twin children.

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Michigan Child Custody Act Appeal

The parties were never married and until recently got along and effectively co-parented. However, mother’s relationship with the father and one of the children (age 13) became so strained that father filed an emergency custody case.

The emergency motion to change custody alleged that the mother would “often lose her temper without control” which constituted a change of circumstances sufficient to modify custody. In her response the mother alleged that the child has been consistently disrespectful to her. The tensions with mother rose so high that the police were called to intervene and the trial court granted father temporary sole legal and physical custody pending a hearing on the issues.

At trial the court concluded that revisiting the custody arrangement was warranted because of the extreme co-parenting difficulties which had a high toll on the children’s well-being. The trial court considered each of the 12 statutory best interest factors pursuant to MCL 722.23 and cited relative evidence to each factor and concluded that it was in the children’s best interest to award father sole legal and physical custody because of mother’s “bizarre and concerning behaviors.

This Michigan Child Custody Act Appeal was premised on the notion that the father failed to establish proper cause or change of circumstances and the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed. On appeal the mother then argued that the court failed to take into account the existence of an established custodial environment and the Michigan Court of Appeals disagreed. In its decision the Court of Appeals agreed with the mother that the trial court failed to take into account the requirements of proper cause or change of circumstances and consideration of an established custodial environment in granting father sole and legal custody on a temporary basis pending the hearing but the error was harmless as the court properly considered these requirements at the trial.

By:  Daniel Findling

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By:  Daniel Findling

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