Just because the divorce is over does not meant that custody and parenting time cannot change. Custody is modifiable so long as the child remains a minor. It is very difficult to change the custody of a child and it may require several appearances in court before the judge will consider modifying custodial arrangements. While parenting time is easier to modify, it is still very difficult if the other parent is not willing to cooperate in any manner. Attempting to make such changes can be overwhelming, and you should seek help from a Michigan child custody attorney.
Change of Circumstances or Good Cause
The Michigan Legislature has decided that changing custody should be difficult because of the understanding that stability is important for a child. Therefore, the court will not even entertain a motion to change custody unless the party seeking to change custody is able to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances in the child's life or very substantial good cause and the change or good cause must have or be likely to have a significant impact on the child's life, specifically, it must significantly impact one of the 12 best interests factors.
Established Custodial Environment
First the court must determine whether there is a custodial environment with one or both parties. A custodial environment exists if over a significant period of time the child has had a stable environment with that parent where the child looks to the parent for love, guidance and the necessities of live. If such an environment exists, then changing the custodial environment requires a showing that by clear and convincing evidence, the modification would be in the minor child's best interests.
The Best Interest Factors: 12 Factors Influencing Child Custody in Michigan
The following factors are referred to as "the best interest factors" by divorce lawyers and family attorneys in Michigan. The court will consider these factors when determining custody initially and also when considering modifying custody.
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. A court may not consider negatively for the purposes of this factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
When to Contact A Michigan Child Custody Lawyer
Parents can be easily overcome by emotion and confusion about how to protect their own interests and the best interest of their child during Michigan custody disputes. Because there are so many variables and it can be very confusing about how to proceed or what one should do in these cases, guidance from a local Michigan child custody attorney is essential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.