Can one incident of poor judgment cost me custody of my children?
If you're considered getting divorced in North Oakland, Michigan and you have minor children, deciding on who will have legal and physical custody of the children can be the most contentious or difficult part of the divorce process--especially if the parties can't agree. In that case, the court will make the decision deciding what is in the best interest of the children and that's not optimal since no one knows your children better than the two of you.
Both legal custody and physical custody of the children have to be determined. Legal custody is having decision-making power over the significant events and responsibilities of the children's life-- such as education, religion, healthcare, activities and more. Physical custody literally means who will have physical custody of the child – – which parent will they live with on a daily basis. Either custody can be sole or joint and will vary on the circumstances of each case.
Sometimes situations change and a modification order is desired by one of the parents seeking to revise the existing custody order to accommodate the change in circumstances. In an effort to avoid disrupting the life of the children, and to discourage parents from using the children as pawns, changing a custody order requires the parent asking for the change to prove that there has been “a significant change of circumstances beyond normal life changes and proper cause that has occurred since the most recent custody order”.
Proper cause must have a significant effect on the child's well-being. Examples of a significant change of circumstances beyond normal life changes include:
- child neglect
- detrimental home environment such as alcohol or drug abuse
- the custodial parent has developed disabilities that impact the child's situation
- relocation of the custodial parent.
Recently, a woman who reportedly left her two- and four-year-old children alone in her parked car in 5° weather with the windchill 15° below zero for 45 minutes while she interviewed for a job was “arrested on child endangerment charges”. An onlooker reportedly noticed the children, took them into her warm car, and called authorities. An incident of poor judgment and neglect can threaten custody. These children were reportedly placed in protective custody.
If you need assistance with a modification order, or need to defend yourself against one, the family law experts at Cameron C. Goulding Family Law and Mediation, P.L.C. can help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
From our offices in Rochester, Michigan, we serve families throughout Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Livingston, Lapeer and Wayne Counties in all areas of family law.