When Can You Modify a Custody Order in Michigan

When you initially go through the process of filing a case for custody, you may not be satisfied with the duration of parenting time or parenting time condition that you are assigned. 

If you feel that certain factors were not considered as parenting time determinations, you can file for a modification of parenting time. The purpose of a custody order is to provide the child with the best environment for guidance. If that is not being achieved and there are certain compelling circumstances, the judge may decide to change the order to better support the child. 

If you are having ustody issues our firm can help. Call Clarity Family Law at (313) 513-1919 to schedule a free consultation with a Dearborn custody lawyer.

How Soon Can I Modify a Custody Order/ Judgment?

As soon as the current custody order has been filed, you can request a modification in parenting time. However, the type of modification you file will vary based on how long it has been since the judgment regarding the custodial environment was made in court.

If the parenting time agreement was made within the last two weeks, you will be able to file an objection. If the modification of parenting time is regarding an order that was filed more than two weeks ago, you will need to file for a parenting time modification. 

A modification in parenting time can be filed at any point, but you will need to present valid child factors for the change in the custodial environment to be approved. This is why it is highly recommended to hire experienced family law attorneys who understand how to advocate for reasonable parenting time in Michigan disputed custody cases. 

What is “Proper Cause” When It Comes to Custody Modification?

When you go to submit a request for the modification of a custody order you will need to state a "proper cause" as the reason for the change. However, this cause cannot be based on a matter of subjective opinion and must be based on the twelve statutory best interest factors in the state of Michigan.

Some of these factors include things like domestic violence, the child's preference, moral fitness, necessities of life, and the resources they can offer the child. Examples of these resources include access to social and extra-curricular activities. 

In child custody disputes, these factors are used to evaluate the child's well-being and determine which parent is the most fit to have physical custody and give the child a stable home environment.

When a Change of Circumstances Warrant Custody Modification

One of the most common factors that parents cite when they are seeking a change in the custody arrangement is a change in circumstances. While this can be enough to take legal action, these life-changing factors will have to affect the well-being of the child in one of the ways listed by the twelve factors.

For example, if one parent got a new job that required significantly longer hours and was no longer compatible with the parenting schedule that was originally drafted, that could be considered a valid reason. 

a family cutout and a gavel on a desk

Another possible change of circumstances that could warrant a legal custody change would be a change in medical care. If the current custody arrangement does not give the child the medical care that they need then this could warrant a change to the custody agreement.

In some cases, like military deployment, the judge may issue a temporary custody change. This will only be valid for the period that the one parent is unavailable and will be undone as soon as they return. Temporary custody is used to ensure that the child is always in a satisfactory environment for children, even if it's just for a short period. 

What is the Burden of Proof Required to Change Custody?

When the child has an established custodial environment, it can be challenging to convince the court system to change the parenting schedule. After all, disrupting the normal life of a child can be hard on them, so they only want to order that if it is strictly necessary.

To prove this necessity, the parent will need to submit convincing evidence that the child's well-being is not being maintained with their current custodial parent. 

What Does a Judge Look for When Deciding on Parenting Time Changes?

When deciding on parenting time changes, the judge will look for a change in the family unit that will impact the child's overall health and happiness. For parenting time factors, they will look at the physical environment that the child is in, the custodial situation, the financial situation, whether or not they have an emotionally stable environment and any other special circumstances. 

Any signs of abuse such as sexual assault, substance abuse, physical abuse, or any other allegations of abuse that affect the child during parenting time are also factors to be considered. 

How Do I File a Motion to Change Custody?

There are two different ways to file a petition for a custody change. If the first custodial arrangement was issued less than 14 days ago, you will be able to file an objection to that order. If that time has already passed and you want to modify an existing parenting time agreement, you will need to file a new custody motion.

Learn More: How Much Does a Child Custody Lawyer Cost?

While not legally required, hiring a child custody attorney to help you file the motion is highly recommended. For the judge to even consider your motion, you will need to have an experienced attorney present the relevant factors in your case. They understand how the legal system works and will be able to push the judge to take reasonable action concerning child custody. 

They will also be able to stand by your side during the custody hearing and ensure that you express your request for modification of parenting time well. 

How an Attorney Can Help Change a Custody Order

A family law attorney can help change a custody order by pointing out the flaws in previous judgments. Within family law, for a child custody modification to be made, you must schedule an evidentiary hearing. In this hearing, you and your attorney will present your motion modifying the parenting time arrangement along with the evidence that supports it.

By arguing that the child is not able to lead a healthy, normal life in their current custodial environment, the attorney can show that the current parenting schedule is not feasible. In the case of palpable abuse, the legal team can also present evidence to show that there is a strong likelihood of abuse in the current custodial environment. 

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