COA concludes that a party who prevails under the Revocation of Paternity Act may vacate a prior child support order

In Adler v. Dormio, No. 319608, the Court of Appeals held that a person who obtains a judgment under the Revocation of Paternity Act may seek relief from a prior support order under applicable Michigan Court Rules. Therefore, the Court of Appeals vacated and remanded the trial court’s order that denied defendant’s motion to vacate a child support order.

Jennifer Adler filed a paternity complaint in 2006 and named Defendant Aaron Dormio as the biological father of her son. Dormio failed to respond to the complaint and the trial court entered a default judgment of filiation against him. The court further ordered Dormio to pay monthly child support and childcare. In 2013, Dormio filed a motion to set aside the judgment under the then new Revocation of Paternity Act, which was granted because genetic tests showed that Dormio was not the father. However, over $45,000 in support costs had accrued prior to the order to set aside that were unaffected by the order.

Dormio filed a motion with the circuit court to vacate his support orders. The court denied his motion on the basis that he failed to meet his burden for relief. Dormio argued on appeal that the plain language of the Revocation of Paternity Act allows him to seek relief under Michigan Court Rules.

The Court of Appeals held that Dormio did have an avenue to set aside the support order under MCR 2.612(C), which provides grounds under which a court may relieve a party from a final judgment. The court reasoned that while the Revocation of Paternity Act does not automatically excuse a parent from compliance with prior support orders, it does expressly allow an individual to seek relief under applicable court rules to vacate a judgment. The court further explained that nothing in the text of MCR 2.612(C) renders it ineffective against a child support order and thus a person who has obtained a judgment under the Revocation of Paternity act may seek relief from prior support orders under MCR 2.612. The court also concluded that the trial court did not state reasons for its holding. Therefore, the Court of Appeals vacated the trial court’s order denying Dormio’s motion to set aside and remanded the case back to the trial court for an articulation of its reasoning.