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A Better Partnership
July 04, 2016

COA: Where plaintiff failed to disclose existence of parties’ minor children, trial court properly dismissed divorce complaint without prejudice

Parties must state whether they have any minor children in their divorce complaints, or courts can dismiss them without prejudice, said the Michigan Court of Appeals in Johnnie James Tyler, II v. Jamie Lee Tyler,  No. 326766.
Mr. Tyler filed a complaint for divorce alleging the parties were married in April 2014 and that there were no minor children “from this current marriage.” The Tylers, however, were previously married from 2005 to 2010, and then divorced and they had children together during this first marriage. Mrs. Tyler did not respond to his complaint, but separately filed a complaint for divorce that indicated the presence of three minor children. The trial court dismissed Mr. Tyler’s complaint without prejudice for failure to note the parties’ minor children. Mr. Tyler appealed. 
The Court of Appeals rejected Mr. Tyler’s argument that the trial court improperly dismissed his divorce action because he allegedly was under no obligation to state in his complaint that there were minor children from the parties’ first marriage. MCR 3.206(A)(5)(b) requires that parties state “(b) whether there are minor children of the parties or minor children born during the marriage” in an action for divorce.  The Court identified the statute’s two categories—“whether there are minor children of the parties” and “minor children born during the marriage”—as “establish[ing] overlapping but not coextensive domains.”  The rule clearly includes children that do not fall into the “minor children born during the marriage” category, such as children of the parties born before the marriage and adopted children. Accordingly, because Mr. Tyler failed to comply with the court rule, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court properly dismissed his complaint for divorce.

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