Family circumstances can change quickly and with little warning. Those changes could have major implications for the family’s shared custody arrangements. A parent could accept a new job in a different state, get engaged to a new romantic partner or develop health concerns. The children might join sports, start part-time jobs or have medical issues of their own.
Even if your parenting plan included broad terms so that you could refer to the same custody order indefinitely after your divorce, you may eventually reach a point where you need to make changes. Thankfully, parents in Michigan who recognize that their custody plan no longer works for their family can file a motion with the courts and ask for a modification hearing.
How does a custody modification work?
There needs to be a valid reason for a family to go back to court over custody changes. Sometimes, parents just need to cooperate with one another to make changes to their schedules when family needs suddenly shift.
However, when parents need to adjust their schedule, it may be time to revisit the plan and update it to reflect those changes. Adjusting the overall division of parenting time, the way that you divide decision-making authority and the actual schedule for parenting are all ways to modify an existing custody order in Michigan.
For any such changes, the person requesting the modification will need to show that there has been a substantial change to family circumstances and that the requested modification would be in the best interests of the children in the family. A parent asking for more time with the children, for example, might talk about how important balanced parental support is for children with divorced parents.
Do you have to go to court?
While you do have to go to court to update your custody order, you don’t have to litigate the issue. You and your ex can agree to the modification and pursue an uncontested filing where you cooperate with each other.
You may also need to re-litigate custody matters if you disagree. In a contested modification hearing, a judge will try to determine what would be best for the children in the family before ruling about how to adjust the custody order. Learning the rules that influence changes to Michigan custody orders will help you be more present for your children and more supportive of them as your family changes.