Circuit Court Family Division LC No. 2016-007600-DM
Before: Gadola, P.J., and Markey and Ronayne Krause, JJ.
RONAYNE KRAUSE, J.
custody matter, defendant-father appeals by right from the
portion of the parties' judgment of divorce that, in relevant
part, granted plaintiff-mother's request to change the
domicile of the parties' minor child, AM, by allowing
plaintiff to move to Alabama with AM. We affirm.
and defendant were married in December 2008 and had one minor
child born during the marriage, AM. Plaintiff also had a
daughter from a prior marriage, who is not at issue in this
matter. During the parties' marriage, plaintiff was
primarily a stay-at-home parent while defendant was in the
military until he began collecting disability benefits in
2014. However, the marriage was riddled with domestic
violence, allegedly committed by both parties, and several
periods of separation.
March 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint for divorce
requesting sole physical and legal custody of AM. Plaintiff
later rescinded her request for sole legal custody and asked
for joint legal custody to continue. Defendant responded that
the parties should share joint legal and physical custody.
During the pendency of the case, defendant began exercising
parenting time every other weekend with both children,
although there was testimony at the parties' divorce
hearing that he occasionally cancelled visitations.
Meanwhile, plaintiff had primary custody of the children, and
she managed all of their educational and health care needs.
2018, plaintiff filed a motion for a change of domicile,
requesting the trial court's approval to relocate with AM
to plaintiff's home state of Alabama. The trial court
took testimony on the matter during the parties' divorce
hearing. At the hearing, plaintiff testified that her family
resided in Alabama and could offer her support and child care
so that she could obtain an education and employment. She
further suggested that both children could continue to have a
relationship with defendant through electronic communications
and extensive parenting time during the summer and holiday
breaks. Defendant objected to the relocation, arguing that
the distance and long periods of time between visitations
would strain his relationship with AM. The trial court agreed
with plaintiff that the change in domicile had the capacity
to improve both plaintiff's and AM's lives, and it
granted plaintiff's motion within the judgment of
appeal, defendant argues that the trial court abused its
direction by making findings and granting plaintiff's
motion for change of domicile without sufficiently analyzing
the best-interest factors in MCL 722.23 or required
considerations under MCL 722.31(4). We disagree.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
Court reviews for an abuse of discretion a trial court's
ultimate decision whether to grant a motion for change of
domicile." Sulaica v Rometty, 308 Mich.App.
568, 577; 866 N.W.2d 838 (2014). An abuse of
discretion exists when the trial court's decision is
"palpably and grossly violative of fact and logic . .
." Fletcher v Fletcher, 447 Mich. 871, 879; 526
N.W.2d 889 (1994), quoting Spalding v Spalding, 355
Mich. 382, 384-385; 94 N.W.2d 810 (1959).
child custody disputes," 'all orders and judgments
of the circuit court shall be affirmed on appeal unless the
trial judge made findings of fact against the great weight of
evidence or committed a palpable abuse of discretion or a
clear legal error on a major issue.'" Pierron v
Pierron, 486 Mich. 81, 85; 782 N.W.2d 480 (2010),
quoting MCL 722.28. The great weight of the evidence standard
applies to all findings of fact; a trial court's
findings, including the trial court's findings in
applying the MCL 722.31 factors, should be affirmed unless
the evidence clearly preponderates in the opposite direction.
Pierron, 486 Mich. at 85; see also Gagnon v
Glowacki, 295 Mich.App. 557, 565; 815 N.W.2d 141 (2012).
In reviewing the trial court's findings, this Court
should defer to the trial court's determination of
credibility. Shann v. Shann, 293 Mich.App. 302, 305;
809 N.W.2d 435 (2011). Further, this Court may not substitute
its judgment on questions of fact "unless the facts
clearly preponderate in the opposite direction."
Gagnon, 295 Mich.App. at 565.
to MCR 3.211(C)(3), "a parent whose custody or parenting
time of a child is governed by [court] order shall not change
the legal residence of the child except in compliance with .