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One Court of Justice Blog

Feb 2017
February 02, 2017

COA: Prenups cannot deprive court’s ability to divide property in a divorce

Parties cannot waive, in an antenuptial agreement, the statutory authority of a court to invade a party’s separate estate when ordering a property division in a divorce, said the Michigan Court of Appeals on remand in Allard v. Allard, No. 308194. Provisions of Michigan’s divorce statute, according to the court, clearly demonstrate that the Legislature intends circuit courts to have discretion to allocate separate assets if doing so is necessary to achieve equity. Any agreement that attempts to bind that equitable authority of the court is necessarily void as against both statute and public policy.

Jan 2017
January 30, 2017

COA rules trial court must make initial child custody finding before referring to friend of the court for investigation

In Bowling v. McCarrick, No. 331583, the Court of Appeals held the trial court erred when it referred a child-custody matter to the Friend of the Court for conciliation before it had made a determination regarding whether the party requesting a change in custody had met his burden of proving either proper cause or change of circumstances.  The trial court improperly relied upon the Friend of the Court’s report in determining whether there was proper cause.  Because Michigan statute requires the court to make this determination before ordering the Friend of the Court to investigate, the Court of Appeals vacated the trial court order and remanded to the trial court for further proceedings. 

Jan 2017
January 25, 2017

MSC grants MOAA on whether an employee’s communication with her attorney constitutes a report to a public body within the meaning of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act

In Tammy McNeil-Marks v. Mid-Michigan Medical Center-Gratiot, No. 154159, the Michigan Supreme Court granted mini-oral argument to address whether an employee’s communication with her attorney constitutes a report to a public body within the meaning of the Whistleblowers’ Protection Act (“WPA”).  The plaintiff in the action had an encounter with one of her employer’s patients, against whom she had a personal protection order (“PPO”).  After informing her attorney of the encounter, her employer discharged her for violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (“HIPPA”).  The plaintiff subsequently filed an action against her employer, alleging in part that her discharge violated the WPA.  The trial court granted summary disposition in favor of the employer; however, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the plaintiff’s discussion with her attorney amounted to a report to a public body within the meaning of the WPA. 

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