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Recent Statutory Developments in Family Law

MPLP Summer 2006 Family Law Section Newsletter Article

Issue 31, Summer 2006

Recent Statutory Developments in Family Law

In Michigan, several bills related to family law have been signed into law since the beginning of this year. In addition, the Michigan Supreme Court adopted amendments to the court rule providing for support orders in juvenile cases. Finally, Maine recently enacted a new law to protect animals from harm in domestic violence cases.

Public Act 60 Criminal Interference with Electronic Communications

This act amends MCL 750.540 to prohibit damaging, destroying, or preventing access to telecommunications, including computers, internet and telephones. The bill is intended to prevent interference with reporting domestic violence and other crimes. This bill was signed March 16, 2006 and is immediately effective.

Public Act 78 Prior Acts of Domestic Violence Evidence

This act adds a section to the criminal code to allow a defendant's prior acts of domestic violence to be admissible as evidence in a domestic violence criminal trial. The provision applies only to trials and hearing held on or after May 1, 2006. The bill was signed March 23, 2006 and is immediately effective.

Public Act 79 Hearsay Exception in Domestic Violence Cases

This act also adds a section to the criminal code to exempt certain statements of domestic violence victims from the hearsay rule in a offense involving domestic violence. The provision applies only to trials and hearing held on or after May 1, 2006. The bill was signed March 23, 2006 and is immediately effective.

Public Act 105 Acknowledgement of Parentage Act

This act amends the Acknowledge of Parentage Act (MCL 722.1006 and 722.1007) to provide that signing the form gives initial custody of the child to the mother without prejudice to a court's determination of each parent's custodial rights. Further, the act provides that the grant of initial custody to the mother does not affect the rights of either parent in a proceeding to seek custody or parenting time. The bill was signed April 7, 2006 and is immediately effective.

MCR 3.973 Dispositional Hearings in Juvenile Matters

The Michigan Supreme Court adopted amendments to this rule, effective July 1, 2006. The rule provides that in dispositional hearings in juvenile cases, the court may enter a child support order against one or both of the child's parents. If the court enters a support order, it must comply with the Michigan Child Support Formula as required by MCL 552.605 and must use the Uniform Support Order required in MCR 3.211(D).

New Maine Law Protects Animals in Domestic Violence Cases

A recently enacted law in Maine amends provisions of the animal welfare laws to allow judges to write protection from abuse orders to protect both companion animals and companion livestock. (LD 1881). Maine is the first state in the country to enact this type of law to address the occurrence of animal abuse in situations where there is also domestic violence. Maine, like every state, has laws that make animal abuse illegal, but the legislature took animal protection one step forward by allowing pets to be protected when domestic violence victims seek protection for themselves and their pets. Specifically the law permits the court to allow the victim to either: take the animals, have the animals sheltered or cared for by someone the victim designates, or make other provisions to protect the pets such as forbidding the abuser from having any contact with the pet. (See Domestic Violence Report, Vol. 11, No. 5).

 


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