Oakland County Child Custody Modification Lawyer
Child custody is something that may change as children grow, change schools and have different needs. Many of these changes are normal and expected and can be written into the child custody parenting plan at the time of divorce. Some changes may occur, however, that were not foreseen. If it becomes necessary to change the child custody arrangement, even if both parents agree on the change, it is still necessary to go back to court for approval. The Oakland County child custody modification layers at Clarkston Legal help parents in Oakland County when they are seeking or opposing a proposed modification to child custody post-divorce.
Modifying child custody orders in Michigan is a complex process
The Michigan law applicable to child custody and child custody modifications is MCL 722.27(c). This section of the law outlines several different steps involved in child custody modification, with different legal standards or “burdens of proof” applicable depending on the circumstances. First, a court will not entertain a child custody modification unless the moving parent (the one requesting the change) can show proper cause or a change in circumstances. The moving parent must prove these facts by a legal standard known as the preponderance of the evidence, which means that the evidence is more in favor of the moving party than the nonmoving party. If the parents disagree over whether a modification is needed, there may be litigation and a hearing in court to determine whether the moving parent has met the burden of proof.
Regardless of the procedure just described, however, if a “custodial environment” has been established, then the court won’t change the current custodial environment unless such a change is proven to be in the child’s best interest. This time, the moving party must prove the change is in the child’s best interest by “clear and convincing evidence,” which is a higher standard of proof more difficult to meet than the “preponderance of the evidence.” The moving parent must therefore work harder to prove his or her case over the arguments and objections of the nonmoving parent. A custodial environment is considered established if “over an appreciable time the child naturally looks to the custodian in that environment for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort.”
The court will consider a number of other factors as well in deciding whether a change in custody is proper, including:
- The age of the child
- The physical environment
- The inclination of the parent and child as to the permanency of the relationship
- The emotional ties between parent and child
- The parent’s mortal fitness
- The mental and physical health of the parents
- The child’s home, school and community record
- Any evidence of domestic violence, abuse or neglect
- The custodial parent is absent from the home
- The custodial parent is abusing drugs or alcohol
- The custodial parent is routinely not providing proper care
Special rules apply if a motion to change custody is filed while a parent is on active duty in the armed forces.
Changes that typically are not considered as a reason to modify child custody include:
- Normal changes as the child grows older
- A child’s wish to change custody
- Financial problems that could be addressed by increasing support
Call Clarkston Legal Attorneys for Help with Child Custody Modifications in Oakland County
If you believe a modification in child custody is necessary after your Oakland County divorce, or if you are resisting a change in custody proposed by your child’s other parent, call Clarkston Legal at 248-886-6600 for a free consultation with experienced and professional Oakland County divorce and child custody lawyers.