Family Law Blog
Battle Creek - Family Law Blog

Changing Custody

Posted December 3, 2018

A child custody order is not set in stone. If you want to change your custody order, you can file a motion to change custody in the court where your custody order was entered. Before the judge decides whether to change your custody order, you must prove there’s been a change in circumstances since the last order was entered, or there is proper cause to reconsider custody.

Not just any change in circumstances is enough for the court to consider changing custody. You must show the court that the change in circumstances is more than just normal life changes in the life of your child. The change must be significant. You must also provide some evidence that the change has affected your child or is very likely to affect your child.

If you can’t prove there’s been a change in circumstances, you must show the court there is proper cause to consider changing custody. Proper cause must be related to at least one of the best interests of the child factors. For more information on these factors read the article, The Best Interests of the Child Factors.

If you can’t prove proper cause or a change in circumstances, the court will not consider changing custody and your current custody order will stay in place. If you can prove there is proper cause or a change in circumstances, the judge will consider changing the custody order. If there is an established custodial environment, it will be more difficult to convince the judge to change custody. You need to present stronger evidence that a custody change is in the best interests of the child.

Just like when you file a motion to change custody, the court must decide whether there has been a change in circumstances or proper cause shown before it will consider changing parenting time. Also, the court must determine whether the proposed change in parenting time will amount to a change in an established custodial environment. If it will, the person asking for the change must present stronger evidence that the parenting time change is in the best interests of the child.


Custody Issues when one parent is in the Military

Posted November 22, 2018

In a recent custody case, the Plaintiff (non-custodial parent) filed a motion for change of custody because of the Defendant's (custodial parent) anticipated a move from Michigan to Florida (due to military job). The trial court denied Plaintiff's motion and Plaintiff appealed. The appellate court reversed. The appellate court held that trial court abused its discretion in determining that the best interests of the children dictated that they remain in defendant's custody and move to Florida. Citing MCL 722.28(1)(c) the appellate court noted that custodial environment is not challenged in this appeal and so the appropriate standard of proof is the preponderance of the evidence rather than clear and convincing evidence. The appellate court stated, " A change in custody would preserve the highly successful status quo as much as possible under the circumstances".

MCL 722.27(1)(c) was amended in 2005 to provide further that if a motion for change of custody is filed during the time a parent is on active military duty, the court may not enter an order modifying or amending a previous judgment or order, or issue a new order, that changes the child's placement that existed on the date the parent was called to active military duty, except the court may enter a temporary custody order if there is clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child.


Enforcing Custody and Parenting Time Orders

Posted October 3, 2018

The Friend of the Court (FOC) is required to enforce custody and parenting time orders. You can file a written complaint with the FOC to start enforcement proceedings if you:

  • Were denied parenting time or
  • Believe your ex-spouse violated the custody or parenting time terms of your Judgment of Divorce.

The FOC will notify your ex-spouse of your complaint. It will encourage you to resolve the dispute yourselves. If it can’t be resolved, or if your ex-spouse doesn’t respond to the complaint, the FOC can:

  • Order make-up visitation (for missed parenting time) or
  • Request an order for a show cause hearing

At a show cause hearing the judge will decide whether your ex-spouse is in contempt for failing to obey the terms of the JOD. The judge will also decide what remedies to use. If the court schedules a show cause hearing you should attend. You can let the FOC know about the custody or parenting time violation and what remedy you want to ask the court for. If your ex-spouse doesn’t pay a debt assigned to him or her in the Judgment of Divorce and you pay it, you can file a motion asking the court to make your ex-spouse repay you.

If the Judgment of Divorce ordered your ex-spouse to return certain items to you and they have not been returned, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce their return. To enforce property provisions of your Judgment of Divorce the court can also:

  • Appoint a receiver to take physical control of the property
  • Award interest
  • Use contempt proceedings

If your ex-spouse doesn’t sign the paperwork needed to transfer title to property you were awarded in your Judgment of Divorce, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce the title transfer.If there are any other terms from the Judgment of Divorce that your ex-spouse doesn’t obey, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce those terms.