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01/07/76 CULLIMORE v. LAURETO

January 7, 1976

CULLIMORE
v.
LAURETO



Appeal from Genesee, Donald R. Freeman, J.

R. B. Burns, P. J., and D. E. Holbrook and D. F. Walsh, JJ.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

1. Divorce -- Child Support -- Modification of Award -- Discretion.

The modification of child support awards is normally entrusted to the discretion of the trial court.

2. Appeal and Error -- Divorce -- Child Support -- Equity -- De Novo Review -- Abuse of Discretion.

Review of an equity determination in a child support dispute is de novo; however, the Court of Appeals will not reverse the trial court's determination unless there was an abuse of discretion.

3. Appeal and Error -- Abuse of Discretion -- Findings of Fact -- Clear Error.

A trial court will not be found to have abused its discretion unless the trial court's findings of fact are clearly erroneous or the reviewing court is convinced it would have reached a different result had it been in the lower court's position.

4. Divorce -- Child Support -- Liability While Incarcerated -- Contempt -- Statutes.

It is proper to deny a defendant's petition to cancel his obligation for child support payments, which accrued while defendant was in jail for contempt for his failure to make child support payments, where the defendant was able but unwilling to assume his support obligation (MCLA 552.201; MSA 25.161).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Burns

Complaint by Carolyn Gale Laureto Cullimore against Stanley Paul Laureto for divorce. Divorce granted, obligating defendant for child support. Defendant was twice jailed for failure to make child support payments. Defendant petitioned for cancellation of the arrearage which accrued while he was in jail. Petition denied. Defendant appeals.

When a father is found in contempt of court and sentenced to jail for failing to make child support payments as required by a divorce judgment, should or must that portion of the payment arrearage which accrued while he was in jail be cancelled from his obligation?

Plaintiff and defendant were divorced in 1967, and defendant was ordered to pay $30 a week as support for their two minor children. Defendant has paid a very minimal amount of support over the years and a substantial arrearage has accumulated. Defendant was twice found to be in contempt pursuant to MCLA 552.201; MSA 25.161 and was jailed for maximum one-year terms in December, 1968, and March, 1974, or until he purged himself. It was during this second period of incarceration that defendant petitioned the circuit ...


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