Child custody is just one of the many issues that is decided during divorce. However, like so many other terms of divorce, the custody order a judge issues may be modified in certain situations. Even when both parents agree to the change in child custody, the initial arrangement cannot be modified until a judge agrees to it and signs a new order. Petitioning the court to modify a child custody order is not easy. A Clinton Township family lawyer can help you through the process and give you the best chance of success with your case.
Before changing any child custody orders, you must first file a motion with the court. The party that files the motion is known as the moving party, while the other party is known as the respondent. When you are challenging an ex parte order, or a decision made by a judge without all of the parties present, you must file an Objection to Ex Parte Order and Motion to Rescind or Modify within 14 days after being served with the court order.
When attempting to modify any other custody order, you can file a Motion Regarding Custody form. If the other parent agrees to the modification, make sure the motion reflects this. Regardless of the type of motion you file, the court will charge you a filing fee, although this can be waived in certain situations.
Family court judges will only consider modifying a child custody order when there has been a substantial change in circumstances from the time the initial order was issued. A change in circumstances may include the custodial parent spending significant time away from home, or developing a substance abuse problem. Typical changes in the child’s needs as they get older and the child’s preference are not considered reasons to modify child custody orders.
The judge will then determine if the child has an established custodial environment (ECE). If an ECE is present, the moving party must present clear and convincing evidence that modifying custody is in the child’s best interests. When an ECE is not present, the moving party must show through a preponderance of the evidence that the modification is in the child’s best interests. This is a lower standard than when there is an ECE present.
After all evidence has been presented to the court, a judge will determine whether a child custody modification is in the child’s best interests. The judge may then also determine if visitation time should also be modified.
Although it is possible to modify child custody orders in Michigan, it is not easy. Fortunately, you do not have to do it alone. At Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., our knowledgeable Clinton Township family lawyers can help you through the process and give you the best chance of success with your case. Call us today or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys so we can review your case.
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