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When Can Child Custody Be Modified?

Life is constantly changing for everyone. Just because one thing makes sense today, there’s no guarantee it will make sense tomorrow or next week. This reality is often illustrated in child custody decisions in the months or years after they were made. As such, these types of decisions are modifiable either by agreement or if one or both of the parents petitions the court for a change.  You should note that even if there is an agreement to change custody, the law still requires a court hearing. 

In Michigan, courts must first decide if they are even going to consider modifying custody or if a request should be denied at the outset.  To determine this, they must conclude that there has been a change of circumstances since the last custody order was entered or if there is otherwise proper cause to look into changing the children’s residence.  

The court will decide if they can modify custody based on a number of factors, such as whether there is good reason to review a change of custody, the type of proof the petitioning party has, and whether the modification is in the best interests of the child. Once the court looks at these three factors, they will decide whether they can review the existing custody arrangement.  

There is no “right time” for a custody modification, so courts always keep the best interests of the child in mind when determining whether circumstances warrant a change of custody. Factors that may convince a court to review custody are: 

  • The parent abusing or neglecting the child
  • The parent failing to attend to the educational and medical needs of the child 
  • The parent abusing alcohol or drugs
  • Domestic violence
  • Any physical or mental change that affects the parent’s ability to care for the child

Failure to convince the court that there have been these types of changes in the child’s life (i.e. that the threshold for a change of custody has been met) will result in a summary dismissal of a motion for change of custody.  This is the most common reason motions for change of custody fail when parties file them without an experienced attorney.  At this point the court will not revisit the thirteen “Best Interests of the Child factors to determine where the children should live and the request for change of custody is denied. 

If you believe that circumstances have changed or that you have proper cause to seek a modification of custody and want the court to modify the judgment, then you need the help of a skilled child custody attorney. Courts do not take changes of custody lightly, and the request must be thoroughly and properly prepared and presented in order to have any chance of success.   At ADAM, our attorneys are dedicated to protecting the custodial rights of fathers, both during and after a divorce or custody determination, and they are ready to fight for your rights as well. Contact us today for a free phone consultation.

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men and practices a policy of integrity in all dealings.

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