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A Better Partnership
April 25, 2012

COA Opinion: A minor child splitting time living with each of her divorced parents was domiciled with each parent for purposes of no-fault insurance benefits

Even though a mother had primary physical custody of a child under a judgment of divorce, it was still possible for the child to be considered "domiciled" with the father for purposes of Michigan no-fault personal protection benefits. In Grange Insurance Co of Mich v. Lawrence, the Court of Appeals addressed whether the father's no-fault insurer was responsible for personal protection benefits in connection with death of the child in a motor vehicle accident pursuant to the No-Fault Act's requirement that personal protection insurance applies to relatives of the insured who are "domiciled in the same household." The Court noted that there was no restriction that limits domicile to a single principal residence, and thus it was possible for the child to be domiciled with both parents. Here, given that the child had possessions at both homes, and had a room at each where she spent significant time, she was domiciled with both parents and thus the father's insurer was liable for personal protection benefits. The Court determined that although the mother had primary physical custody through the divorce, the proper inquiry was where the child actually resided and here she resided with both parents. Thus, the Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's judgment finding the father's insurer liable for personal protection benefits.

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