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One Court of Justice Blog

March 02, 2017

COA holds that a statutory instruction to "consider" factors, does not require findings on the record as to each factor

When a custodial parent motions for a change in a minor child's domicile, the Court is required to "consider" the factors under MCL 722.31(4). "Consider[ation]" of the factors "does not require the court to specifically delineate its findings with regard to each factor. . . ." In re MKK, 286 Mich App 546, 556-557; 781 NW2d 132 (2009); Lee v Smith, 310 Mich App 507, 509; 871 NW2d 873 (2005).
 
In Yachcik v Yachcik, No. 333834, plaintiff, the mother of a minor child, sought to move from Michigan to Pennsylvania and motioned the court for a change to her minor child's domicile to reflect her intended relocation. The trial court denied the plaintiff's motion citing that it found MCL 722.31(4)(a) and (c) dispositive in balancing the factors. Plaintiff appealed claiming the court was required to delineate its findings with respect to each factor. Because "consider" was not defined under the Child Custody Act, the Court of Appeals looked to Webster's Dictionary for the word's plain meaning. After referencing Webster's definition for "consider" the court held that MCL 722.31(4) only "requires a trial court to carefully think about, take into account, or asses each factor, but there is no indication that a trial court is required to take further action, such as making findings on the record."
 
Additionally, changes in parenting time arrangements that modify an established custodial environment can only be made following a balancing of the best interest factors under MCL 722.23, not under MCL 722.31, which is a separate standard.
 
In Yachcik v Yachcik, following the trial court's denial of the motion to change the minor child's domicile, and taking into consideration that the plaintiff would move despite the court's decision, the trial court entered a parenting time change. In ordering the change in parenting time, the trial court failed to consider the best interest of the child factors delineated under MCL 722.23, prompting the Court of Appeals remand of the issue.

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