Circuit Court LC No. 16-03474-DM
Before: Markey, P. J., and Hoekstra and Ronayne Krause, JJ.
RONAYNE KRAUSE, J.
appeals by right the trial court's order denying his
motion for reconsideration, rehearing, and relief from
judgment; substantively, he appeals the parties' judgment
of divorce, which was entered pursuant to a memorandum signed
by the parties following a mediation meeting. The memo
outlined and resolved all the disputes for the divorce and
was thus adopted by the trial court. We affirm.
initially that defendant complains that plaintiff allegedly
failed to disclose a real estate interest. However, it
appears that the trial court addressed that issue, and in any
event, defendant makes no argument pertaining to it and no
request for relief for it. We deem it to be a "red
herring" not properly before this Court or relevant to
the issue before us, and even if defendant had made
a relevant request for relief, his failure to present any
argument on point would have waived any basis for such
relief. See Mitcham v City of Detroit, 355 Mich.
182, 203; 94N.W.2d388(l959).
parties married in 2015 and had one minor child together,
although plaintiff has another child from a previous
relationship. The marriage did not last long, and plaintiff
filed for divorce approximately five months later. In a
motion for custody, parenting time, and child support,
plaintiff expressed a number of concerns, including an
alleged lack of caretaking interest or ability by defendant,
an alleged abuse of drugs and alcohol by defendant, and a
variety of violent threats or outbursts by defendant.
Plaintiff sought full physical custody of the parties'
child with some weekly supervised parenting time for
defendant; defendant denied the allegations and sought joint
legal and physical custody. The trial court entered a
temporary order granting joint legal custody, granting
plaintiff sole physical custody, granting defendant parenting
time 3 times per week, and ordering defendant to pay $700 a
month in child support.
the temporary order, the parties participated in facilitated
mediation. Both parties had retained counsel. The parties
reached an agreement on all issues in the divorce. Among
other agreements, defendant's child support was reduced
to $300 a month, his parenting time was extended, and the
parties agreed to review parenting time and custody when the
child reached certain ages. The memorandum signed by the
parties reflecting their agreement concluded with the
"This memorandum of understanding spells out the
agreement that we have reached in mediation. This resolves
all disputes between the parties and the parties agree to be
bound by this agreement."
memorandum also seemed to resolve disputes over personal
property, and it enumerated the parties' specified real
estate. As noted, defendant contends that plaintiff did not
fully disclose her real estate interests, but that issue has
either been addressed by the trial court or waived, and it is
not before us.
parties held a settlement conference before the trial court.
Plaintiff subsequently filed a motion for entry of judgment,
while defendant filed a motion to set aside the settlement
memorandum. The trial court held a hearing on the
parties' respective motions and entered the judgment of
divorce. The trial court observed that defendant had signed
the memorandum in the presence of counsel and that
defendant's signature was expected to "mean
something." The trial court also asked that this Court
provide express guidance "whether or not the parties
have the right to make decisions for their own
children." We do so, and we agree with the trial
court's assessment of the situation.
Unlike virtually all other civil litigation between competent
individuals, a divorce, even when settled, requires a hearing
in the circuit court and the taking of proofs before a
judgment can be entered. MCR 3.210(B)(2). As we pointed out
in Koron v Melendy, 207 Mich.App. 188, 191, 523
N.W.2d 870 (1994), this requirement allows for an exercise of
judicial discretion. In contemplation of this judicial
activity, when the terms of the parties' agreement are
placed on the record there must at least be an admission,
i.e., acknowledgment, by the parties that the agreement
contains the terms of the settlement and the parties'
signatures. This acknowledgment of the settlement's terms
and the parties' signatures allows the court to exercise
the anticipated discretion in an informed manner.
[Wyskowski v Wyskowski, 211 Mich.App. 699, 702; 536
N.W.2d 603 (1995).]
trial court commits clear legal error when it incorrectly
chooses, interprets, or applies the law. Fletcher v
Fletcher, 229 Mich.App. 19, 24; 581 N.W.2d 11 (1998).
"An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court
chooses an outcome falling outside the range of principled
outcomes." Edry v Adelman, 486 Mich. 634, 639;
786 N.W.2d 567 (2010). "The finding of the trial court
concerning the validity of the parties' consent to a
settlement agreement will not be overturned absent a finding
of an abuse of discretion." Vittiglio v
Vittiglio, 297 Mich.App. 391, 397; 824 N.W.2d 591
(2012). "This Court will defer to the trial court's
credibility determinations, and the trial court has
discretion to accord differing weight to the best-interest
factors." Berger v Berger, 277 Mich.App. 700,
705; 747 N.W.2d 336 (2008).
the parties did come to an agreement, which was embodied in
the memorandum. Notwithstanding his protestations that he
felt pressured, defendant does not seriously dispute that the
memorandum reflected the agreement and bore his signature.
Even if he attempted to seriously engage in such a dispute,
the trial court clearly found that defendant had in fact
agreed to the memorandum, which, given the deference given to
the trial court's findings, would be conclusive at this
stage. Rather, it appears that defendant simply regretted
making the agreement. He now attempts to raise essentially
procedural challenges, in particular noting that it was not
read into the record in open court and it was not signed by
the parties' mediator or attorneys. Defendant likens the
agreement to a mediation settlement, where MCR 3.216(H)(7)
and MCR 2.507 (G) would require certain procedures to be
followed. However, there was a hearing held and the agreement
was scrutinized before entered into the proposed judgment.
Thus, the agreement between the two parties was valid.
Court has ruled that "in cases where the parties are in
agreement regarding custody and visitation and present the
court with such an agreement, the trial court need not
expressly articulate each of the best interest factors.
Implicit in the court's acceptance of the parties'
agreement is its determination that the arrangement is in the
child's best interest." Koron, 207
Mich.App. at 192-193. "Implicit in the trial court's
acceptance of the parties' custody and visitation
arrangement is the court's determination that the
arrangement struck by the parties is in the child's best
interest." Id. at 191. Although the trial court
is not necessarily constrained to accept the parties'
stipulations or agreements verbatim, the trial court is
entirely permitted to accept them and ...