Changes in Circumstances in Custody and Parenting Time

Posted on 12/6/2017 by Robert Relph in Child Custody Parenting Time
Changes in Circumstances in Custody and Parenting Time

Significant Change in Circumstances

Michigan law provides that there must be a significant change of circumstances to bring a custody or parenting time case back to court, but what constitutes "significant change in circumstances?"

A change in circumstance proceeding presumes that custody has already been decided in a prior proceeding. On the other hand, if a custody case presents itself as part of a divorce, a significant change of circumstances would not apply. Because this is the initial proceeding, either parent has the right to ask for custody without proving any change of circumstances.

Examples of Acceptable Circumstances

By no means a complete list, some examples of a significant change of circumstances as it relates to custody may include:

  • A parent routinely not providing proper care for a child
  • Routine poor performance in school
  • Parental absence from the home
  • Negative relationships between the custodial parent and others witnessed by the child
  • Drug or alcohol abuse

These are only examples, meaning that any client considering a change of custody should consult an experienced custody attorney, who should be able to tell the client after a consultation whether the client has a significant enough change of circumstances to warrant the expenditure of funds to bring a custody case back to court.

Examples of Unacceptable Circumstances

A significant change of circumstances in a custody case would not involve normal life changes for a child such as school or extracurricular activity changes. Similarly, the mere fact that a child states that that child wants to live with the other parent, by itself, is usually not enough for a change of custody. Courts simply do not consider that a significant change in circumstances, despite the fact that the parent requesting custody often does consider it significant.

Changes in Parenting Time

With regard to changes in parenting time, a significant change of circumstances need not be presented. Normal life changes over time can justify a change in parenting time. For example, parenting time for a one or two year old will likely change after the child reaches school age. The needs and appropriate parenting time for a child of school age could change by the time the child reaches middle or high school, making a change in parenting time appropriate. Again, consulting with an experienced divorce and custody attorney is essential for the client to understand whether, in fact, a requested change in the parenting time should be appropriately brought before the court.

Hire an Experienced Attorney

Attorney experience is key when it comes to custody changes and parenting time modifications. My main goal is to evaluate your case and only pursue a request for change in circumstance if the facts presented by the client justify the request and the expense.