Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ryan v. Ryan case brief

Ryan v. Ryan case brief summary
677 N.W.2d 899 (2004)

Plaintiff daughter's attorney filed a complaint seeking a divorce from defendant parents, a motion for return of the daughter to the state, and an amended complaint seeking emancipation and alleging abuse and neglect. After the parents filed a motion to dismiss the claims and to declare previous orders void ab initio, the Kent Circuit Court (Michigan) granted the daughter's motion to dismiss the claims without prejudice. The parents appealed.

Before any complaint was filed, the trial court entered an ex parte order regarding the daughter's proper placement based on an ex parte contact from the mother of the daughter's boyfriend. The daughter's attorney then filed the divorce complaint. On the request of the daughter's attorney the trial court appointed a guardian ad litem; granted the parents' motion to dismiss the divorce action; denied their motion to dismiss the emancipation, neglect, and abuse causes; and ultimately dismissed the remaining claims on a motion of the daughter's attorney but refused to void its prior orders ab initio as requested by the parents.


  • On appeal the court held that the ex parte order and the order appointing a guardian ad litem were void because the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the claim for a divorce from the parents, a claim unrecognized in Michigan. 
  • Under Mich. Comp. Laws § 551.1 the daughter also lacked standing to file such a claim. 
  • The trial court also erred by denying the parents' summary disposition motion as to the emancipation petition because there it lacked the affidavits required under Mich. Comp. Laws § 722.4a.
The court reversed the order granting the daughter's motion to dismiss without prejudice and remanded the case to the trial court with instructions to enter an order of dismissal with prejudice in the parents' favor and to vacate all previous orders entered by the trial court as void ab initio. The court did not retain jurisdiction.

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