Friday, May 28, 2010


SAGINAW DIVORCE REVIEWED BY ATTORNEY TERRY BANKERT A DIVORCE LAWYER. For immediate help with your family law questions call 810-235-1970.


CHERI L. WOODINGTON, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v KAMRAN SHOKOOHI, Defendant-Appellee/Cross- Appellant.

Docket No(s) 288923, Published 05/04/2010

Trial Court/lower Court Saginaw County Circuit Court.

Trial Court Judge Robert L. Kaczarek
Lower Court Docket No(s) LC No. 06-060841-DM

(This opinion has been modified for media presentation)

To see original document,


Plaintiff Cheri Woodington appeals the trial court’s judgment of divorce. She argues that the trial court made inadequate findings of fact in regard to the value of marital property, the date of valuation, and the status of certain assets as marital or separate property. She also raises issues concerning discovery, spousal support, and attorney fees. Defendant Kamran Shokoohi cross-appeals and contends that the trial court erred in failing to divide the property in accordance with the parties’ prenuptial agreement. We affirm some aspects of the trial court’s judgment; however, because the inadequacy of the trial court’s findings on several of these matters precludes meaningful appellate review, we remand for further proceedings.


Plaintiff argues that the trial court erred in awarding her alimony in gross in lieu of the spousal support she sought. She also contends that the trial court failed to make findings of fact in support of this decision. We find that the trial court’s failure to make relevant findings precludes review of this decision, and we remand to the trial court for further findings.

This Court reviews a trial court’s award of spousal support for an abuse of discretion. Olson v Olson, 256 Mich App 619, 631; 671 NW2d 64 (2003). An abuse of discretion occurs where the trial court’s decision falls outside the range of reasonable and principled outcomes. Maldonado v Ford Motor Co, 476 Mich 372, 388; 719 NW2d 809 (2006). The trial court’s findings of fact relating to an award of spousal support are reviewed for clear error. Moore v Moore, 242 Mich App 652, 654; 619 NW2d 723 (2000).

“In deciding a divorce action, the circuit court must make findings of fact and dispositional rulings.” McDougal v McDougal, 451 Mich 80, 87; 545 NW2d 357 (1996). This Court must first review the trial court’s findings of fact. Sparks v Sparks, 440 Mich 141, 151; 485 NW2d 893 (1992). Findings of fact, such as a trial court’s valuation of particular marital assets, will not be reversed unless clearly erroneous. Beason v Beason, 435 Mich 791, 805; 460 NW2d 207 (1990). A finding is clearly erroneous if, after a review of the entire record, the reviewing court is left with the definite and firm conviction that a mistake was made. Id.; Johnson v Johnson, 276 Mich App 1, 10-11; 739 NW2d 877 (2007). Special deference is given to the trial court’s findings when they are based on the credibility of the witnesses. Draggoo v Draggoo, 223 Mich App 415, 429; 566 NW2d 642 (1997). The determination of the proper time for valuation of an asset is in the trial court’s discretion. Gates v Gates, 256 Mich App 420, 427; 664 NW2d 231 (2003). If the trial court’s findings of fact are upheld, the appellate court must decide whether the dispositive ruling was fair and equitable in light of those facts. Sparks, 440 Mich at 151-152. “The court’s dispositional ruling should be affirmed unless this Court is left with the firm conviction that the division was inequitable.” Pickering v Pickering, 268 Mich App 1, 7; 706 NW2d 835 (2005).

Plaintiff sought spousal support in the amount of $55,000 annually (rounded to $4,600 monthly) until the parties’ younger child began attending high school, which would enable plaintiff to continue her status as a full-time stay-at-home mom until the children completed middle school. Defendant stated in his trial brief that he would be willing to pay spousal support in the amount of $55,000 per year for two years.

The objective of spousal support is to balance the incomes and needs of the parties in a way that will not impoverish either party, and support is to be based on what is just and reasonable under the circumstances of the case. Berger v Berger, 277 Mich App 700, 726; 747 NW2d 336 (2008). Among the factors that a court should consider are: (1) the past relations and conduct of the parties; (2) the length of the marriage; (3) the abilities of the parties to work; (4) the source and amount of property awarded to the parties; (5) the parties’ ages; (6) the abilities of the parties to pay support; (7) the present situation of the parties; (8) the needs of the parties; (9) the parties’ health; (10) the parties’ prior standard of living and whether either is responsible for the support of others; (11) contributions of the parties to the joint estate; (12) a party’s fault in causing the divorce; (13) the effect of cohabitation on a party’s financial status; and (14) general principles of equity. Id. at 726-727.

Plaintiff says that the trial court abused its discretion because it essentially denied her spousal support, and opted instead to award her alimony in gross, “a division of property.” 1 The trial court did not explain its reasons for awarding alimony in gross, its reasons for awarding the specific amount of alimony in gross, or its reasons for denying plaintiff’s request for periodic spousal support subject to modification under MCL 552.28. Accordingly, we are unable to discern why the court believed that this decision was appropriate for the parties’ circumstances. The trial court could have ordered spousal support or an award of property called “alimony in gross” but, to support its dispositional ruling, the court was required to make findings of fact that are susceptible to appellate review. Because the trial court failed to provide its analysis or reasoning to its decision to award alimony in gross and deny plaintiff’s request for spousal support, we must reverse and remand with instructions that the trial court make findings of fact appropriate for judicial review.

Posted here by

Terry Bankert



CHERI L. WOODINGTON, Plaintiff-Appellant/Cross-Appellee, v KAMRAN SHOKOOHI, Defendant-Appellee/Cross- Appellant.

Docket No(s) 288923, Published 05/04/2010

Trial Court/lower Court Saginaw County Circuit Court.

Trial Court Judge Robert L. Kaczarek
Lower Court Docket No(s) LC No. 06-060841-DM



Terry Bankert



1 Staple v Staple, 241 Mich App 562, 566; 616 NW2d 219 (2000). We note that the holding in Staple is inapplicable because Staple applies “to judgments entered pursuant to the parties’ own negotiated settlement agreements, not to alimony provisions of a judgment entered after an adjudication on the merits.” Id. at 569.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Flint Divorce Attorney comments on: The Milkshake hitmaker’s marriage to rapper Nas it's officially over.[1]


Power couple Nas and Kelis announced that they were calling it quicks back in April 2009 despite being pregnant with their first son together. Since then they have gone through a nasty legal battle over child support and child custody. Finally, a little over a year later, the marriage has officially come to a close.[4]


The initial filing for a divorce without children includes a summons, a complaint, filing fees, and a record of divorce or annulment (some counties require filing at the time of entry of the judgment).[5]


If there are minor children or a request for spousal support, a verified statement must be served on the other party and provided to the Friend of the Court. The initial filing for a divorce with minor children must also include information about custody proceedings and the names and birth dates of the minor children.


“[T]here has been a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”[5]


In legal documents filed last Friday in L.A. County Superior Court and obtained by TMZ, the pair’s union has been terminated.[1]

No divorce judgment may be entered without a hearing in open court at which proofs are taken. The testimony of at least one party must establish the statutory grounds and jurisdiction.[5]

No proofs or testimony can be taken until 60 days after the complaint is filed, or 6 months if there are minor children. The court may not shorten the 60-day period, but may reduce the 6-month period to as few as 60 days if there is “unusual hardship or compelling necessity.”[5]

The parties may preserve testimony during the waiting period.[5]


However, the couple still need to agree on child custody and spousal support.[1]


Nas currently pays Kelis around $10,000 a month for child and spousal support, which he claims he can’t afford.[1]

Nas has been ordered to pay Kelis $10,000 a month in spousal support.[2]

The Michigan Child Support Formula is used as a guideline for determining the amount of support that may be ordered unless application of the formula is unjust or inappropriate. MCL 552.605(2). [5]


May be entered at any time on the filing of a verified motion, after a hearing.

Must state effective date and whether it may be modified retroactively. The order remains in effect until modified or a final judgment or order is entered.[5]


The hip-hop star was also told he has to pay his estranged spouse $47,249.42 in back child support for their seven-month-old son Knight, and $40,454 in back spousal support during a hearing in Los Angeles County Superior Court Monday.[2]

The court has inherent authority as a court of equity to enforce its own directives. The court may enforce provisions in the divorce judgment that the parties agreed to even if the court would not have had authority to order them without the parties’ consent.[5]


In December, Nas had his monthly spousal and child payments to Kelis increased from a combined $40,000 to a total of $51,000 a month, but has failed to keep up with the installments.[2]

The musician — real name Nasir Jones — had his spousal support payments increased in order to cover some of the $299,015.50 he owes the Milkshake singer.[[2]


Kelis filed for divorce last April citing “irreconcilable differences”.[1]


It is believed she became tired of Nas’ verbal abuse and alleged infidelity.[1]


Since their split, the pair have regularly been in dispute over finances, with Kelis claiming Nas had not given her enough money to live on during her pregnancy.

Nas insisted he had paid her $30,000 in expenses.[1]


Kelis and Nas originally met at an after-party hosted by P. Diddy for the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards.[1]


In a recent interview with VIBE, Nas implied that Kelis is a little haphazard when it comes to access to their son - depending on her mood.[3]


The Child Custody Act of 1970, MCL 722.21 et seq., establishes rights and duties regarding parenting time (visitation) in disputed actions. The family division of the circuit court has exclusive jurisdiction over cases of child custody, including questions regarding parenting time. See MCL 600.1021(1)(g).

MCL 722.27a sets forth general principles controlling parenting time decisions.

It is presumed that it is in the best interests of a child to have a strong relationship with both parents.

The frequency, duration, and type of parenting time granted should be reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. See also Booth v Booth, 194 Mich App 284, 486 NW2d 116 (1992).

The child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. See also Rozek v Rozek, 203 Mich App 193, 511 NW2d 693 (1993).

If the parents reach an agreement regarding parenting time, the court must order the parenting time terms unless it finds on the record by clear and convincing evidence that the terms are not in the child’s best interests. MCL 722.27a(2). [5]


They got engaged a year later and married in Atlanta in 2005[1]

Posted here by

Terry Bankert







Michigan Family Law Benchbook ch 1 (ICLE 2d ed 2006)