Domestic Diversions

Extending the statute of limitations

The Michigan Court of Appeals is publishing Wayne County Social Services Director v. Yates (March 9, 2004; Case No. 244191). The father’s income withholding payments amounted to renewals of the full child support obligation and thereby served to extend the statute of limitations. The fact that he did not write the check himself did not render the payments involuntary.

Neff writes (excerpt):
Defendant argues because he made no payment, voluntary or otherwise, after the statute of limitations expired, there is no authority to support an extension of the limitations period. We disagree.

In Yeiter v Knights of St Casimir, 461 Mich 493, 494; 607 NW2d 68 (2000), the Supreme Court held that partial payments on a debt, “some of which were within the limitation period, . . . .” constituted a renewal of the promise to pay the amount owed. . . .

Although Yeiter did not involve a child support arrearage, the holding is clear that any payment on a debt, whether before or after the running of the statute of limitations, acts to extend the limitations period. The child support obligation in this case was a debt and payments were made pursuant to the income withholdings.

Plaintiff argues, in essence, that his payments were involuntary because they were made pursuant to an income withholding order. The logical thrust of the argument is that the payments could not represent a renewed promise to pay under these circumstances. This Court’s holding in Durecki, supra, rejects that very argument. In Durecki, the defendant argued that his payments were involuntary because they were made to avoid being held in contempt. This Court held that the claim of duress and therefore involuntariness was without record and legal support, citing both Miner, supra, and Neilands v Wright, 134 Mich 77: 95 NW 997 (1903). See also Morehead v Hoffdal, unpublished per curiam opinion of the Court of Appeals, issued September 25, 1998, (Docket No. 201019), where a panel of this Court held that successful actions to collect a child support judgment via income tax refund intercepts within the limitations period waived the statute of limitations defense without regard to the consent of the paying party. Id., slip op at

2 thoughts on “Extending the statute of limitations

  1. M. Carpenter

    Doesn’t the word “involuntary” mean anything to the Michigan Courts? In essence there is no statutue of limitations and they should stop kidding themsleves and us that there is a way out of some of our bad decisions.

  2. david

    This has to be the most assine decision out of Michigan to date. I read it a hundred times before I was finally able to make sense of it. It appears that Yates was self employed and as such he was both the employee as well as the employer. Hence his compliance with the orders for income withholding, acting as an employer, have been twisted by the Court to imply such compliance was a willfull act, hence a voluntary act by Yates. Citing to Yieter. The fact that he was under duress by the threats of what would happen to him if he ignored the income withholding order is dismissed by court citing to Durecki. But it is pure unadultered bullshit that income tax intercepts or income withholding, in which the debtor has no say whatsoever, can be used to extend the statue of limitations. The law is very clear, cited to many times within this opinion, that it takes SOME kind of VOLUNTARY ACT by the debtor for this to occur. Whether under duress or even if a gun is pointed to their head. A court order that a debtor is powerless to supress cannot possibly be considered voluntary as the order is not address to the debtor, but to those who hold funds that belong to the debtor. As such he or she is being punished by the acts of another that he or she is powerless to prevent. For the court to hold that the acts of person who has NO association whatsoever with the debt in question somehow magically extends the statue of limitations has no basis in fact or law. An affermative act of some kind by either the debtor or the person indebted to is required, whether involuntary or otherwise.

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