When divorcing with children involved, you and your spouse can come to a child custody agreement on your own, or you can have the court do it for you. In any case, this agreement needs to be followed exactly. You and the other parent can decide on one-off modifications together, but if you need a permanent change to be made, you need to go through the modification process.
The process varies from state to state, but for the most part, the guidelines and requirements are similar. The court will agree to a child custody modification only if you can prove a significant change in circumstances. Some examples include:
- A long-distance move. Under Michigan law, you will need court approval to move if you are moving out of state, or you have joint legal custody, and you want to move more than 100 miles from where the child lived at the time the child custody case started.
- A long-term change to a parent’s work schedule. If you have parenting time with the child on weekends, and you now have to work Saturdays and Sundays, then a modification would be necessary.
- A change in a parent’s ability to care for the child. If a parent has been accused of neglecting or abusing a child, is in jail, or has developed a substance abuse problem, then the other parent may get more custody.
- A shift in the child’s needs due to age or health. If the child develops a chronic illness and one parent is better suited to take care of the child, then they may receive more custody. Also, as a child gets older, they may decide to live solely with one parent rather than keep going back and forth.
Modifications are not easy to get, so you will need evidence that you meet the requirements. Have you been having problems with enforcing custody? If so, do you have police records showing this? It may be a good idea to have a journal noting any issues with custody.
Do you have evidence that the other parent’s home is not suitable for the child? For example, is it unstable? Judges base custody decisions on stability, safety, and welfare. If you can show that your child is in danger or their best interests are not being met, then you may be able to modify custody.
Medical and school records can be helpful. So can statements from doctors and teachers, as well as any documentation showing a new work schedule or upcoming move.
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Custody orders can change over time as life changes and the children get older. However, modifications have to happen for a good reason and must be approved by the court, so make sure you understand the process.
For questions about child custody in Michigan, contact The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins. We are familiar with various custody situations and will help you get a favorable outcome. Schedule a consultation with our office by filling out the online form or calling (248) 646-7980.