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A Better Partnership
October 18, 2012

COA Opinion: Court enforces Quebec child support order under principle of comity

In Gaudreau v Kelly, the Michigan Court of Appeals upheld enforcement of a Quebec child support order. While the Oakland County Friend of the Court had denied enforcement of the order because the United States and Quebec had not entered into a reciprocity agreement, the Court of Appeals found that the trial court had jurisdiction to enforce the order under the principle of comity.

After the defendant and his wife divorced, neither was able to care for their two children, and the Superior Court of Canada granted custody of the children to the plaintiffs, their maternal grandparents. The order granting custody required the defendant to pay monthly child support. When the defendant moved to the United States and failed to pay the child support, the plaintiffs attempted to enforce the order with the Oakland County Friend of the Court, who denied their request. The plaintiffs then filed a complaint for support with the trial court, which granted the complaint.

The Court of Appeals indicated that, in determining whether to apply comity and thus give full effect to the judgment of a foreign country, one factor the court must consider is whether there has been an opportunity for a full and fair trial. In this case, the defendant had notice of the proceedings in Quebec, retained an attorney in relation to the proceedings, and was not prevented from appearing at the hearings. The Court of Appeals noted that requirements under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act were not relevant to the issue of whether comity should apply. Additionally, though the defendant argued that the support order should not have been enforced because the order did not award him parenting time, the Court of Appeals found that argument was unpreserved because it had not been raised before the trial court. Therefore, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's enforcement of the Quebec child support order.

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