Pratt v. Pratt

Decision Date29 November 1879
Citation3 N.W. 941,42 Mich. 174
CourtMichigan Supreme Court
PartiesMARY B. PRATT v. HORACE B. PRATT and others.

Agreement to provide for support of parents by a son, considered, and held to obligate him to provide such support at his own house and not elsewhere.

Appeal from Berrien.

S.W Fowler, for complainant.

E.S Pratt, for defendants.

COOLEY J.

This controversy belongs to that unhappy class where parents having divested themselves of the means of independent support in favor of children, find themselves, afterwards discontented in the position in which they have placed themselves, and resort to litigation with their children, to the destruction of family and domestic happiness.

The complainant is the widow of Horace B. Pratt. In 1866, in the life-time of her husband, she united with him in a conveyance of their little property, consisting of one hundred and sixty acres of cheap land and a small amount of personal property, worth, in all, perhaps, $1,200, to the defendant Horace B. Pratt, their son, taking back from him an agreement that the son should give them "a good and sufficient support during their natural lives, providing sufficient food and clothing, medicine and medical attendance when necessary, and not requiring of them any labor or service other than they may voluntarily render." The written contract contained a provision that the parents should have a lien on the property to secure performance of its stipulations.

The father did not survive this arrangement long, but the mother lived with her son after her husband's death, some eight years. They appear to have lived in a very economical way, but contented and without controversy, the mother taking general charge of the household work for the son, who was unmarried. The son then married, and difficulties arose. These, however, are entirely unexplained; the mother giving no sufficient reason for them, but declaring that she has a reason which she chooses not to tell. We have no reason to think the son was wanting in due provision for his mother any more after his marriage than before.

When difficulties sprang up, the mother left the son's house and went elsewhere to live. She now claims to be entitled to a support by her son wherever she sees fit to reside.

When the very moderate circumstances of the parties are taken into account, it is difficult to reach any other conclusion than that it was the understanding and...

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