Michigan’s Shared Parenting Act

The Michigan Shared Parenting Act cleared the House Judiciary Committee this week. That makes it one step closer to becoming law. Both the Family Law Section of the Michigan State Bar and the Michigan Judge’s Association have come out against the bill. Both of those groups are comprised of stakeholders who stand to lose if this bill goes through. Jim Runestad, the sponsor of the bill, points out that current custody decisions vary wildly based on the judge to which they’re assigned. That is, judges are really bad at uniformly and fairly applying the whole best interests of the child standard. The powers that be are working on a fiscal analysis of the bill.

Military Pension Disability Waivers Are Not Marital Property

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that military pension disability waivers are not marital property. That means that Michigan judges can’t order one spouse to pay another waived disability payments. Usually how this plays out is that the judge orders the military spouse to pay the other spouse a certain amount of the military pension. The military spouse is ordered to pay the other spouse makeup payments if they waive pension payments for disability payments.

The U.S. Supreme Court ordered that the state courts can’t do that. The Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act makes only the pension itself marital property, they said. Disability pay is simply not marital property for the court to divide. The court also said that required makeup payments are not a lawful substitute, either.

Courts can make spousal support modifiable. They can also divide property with the possibility of a disability waiver in mind. However, the Howell v. Howell case say that military disability payments are off the table, even if they’re received as a waiver of pension payments.

Police Body Cameras

The Michigan legislature is one step closer to passing laws that regulate police body cameras. Specifically, they want to allow police to exempt certain footage obtained from police body cameras from the Freedom of Information Act. They want to make sure that police footage doesn’t embarrass victims and others who might not sensitive information released. Opponents say that police will use this new law to shield them from releasing any footage that paints them in a negative light. Of course, this won’t affect the Grand Traverse Sheriff’s Office, because they don’t use dash cams or body cams.

Unmarried Cohabitation

The state legislature is also taking steps to decriminalize unmarried cohabitation. It’s still on the books that it’s illegal to live with a romantic partner that you’re not married to. Practically, this is never enforced. In some southern states it can still work against a parent in a custody dispute, but in Michigan, there don’t seem to be any criminal or civil laws that penalize a person for unmarried cohabitation. But that won’t stop your mother from judging…