When Can You Change a Child Custody Arrangement in Michigan?

Since children thrive when they have a predictable routine, the courts rarely like to change custody orders. That doesn’t mean your initial arrangement is permanent, however. There are scenarios in which you can request modifications and, depending on the circumstances, a judge may be willing to grant them.

If you’re hoping to change an existing order, you probably have a lot of questions on the subject. To help you get started, check out the answers below:

1. When Will the Court Modify a Custody Arrangement?

Generally speaking, judges are willing to change custody orders when at least one party can present proper cause or demonstrate a significant change in circumstances. Since every family’s dynamic is unique, there are no universal rules regarding what constitutes either. Some of the most common examples, however, include:

  • One party has started abusing drugs or alcohol,
  • One party has started neglecting or abusing the children, or
  • One party is failing to provide routine care for the children.

2. How Do You Ask the Court to Change a Custody Order?

Even if both parties agree on the modifications, they must submit a formal motion in order to change the arrangement in the eyes of the law. The party filing the motion is called the moving party, while the other is the respondent.

Unless the moving party wants to change an ex parte order, they must submit the Motion Regarding Custody form and pay the associated fee. Upon filing this document, they must ask for a hearing date. Then, they must mail the motion to the respondent at least nine days prior to the hearing, or they must give it to them in person at least seven days in advance.

At the hearing, a judge will review the request and decide whether to modify the arrangement based on the evidence presented.

3. What Do Judges Consider When Deciding Whether to Change Custody Orders?

When considering a custody order, whether it’s a new arrangement or a modification of an existing one, the judge’s primary concern is the best interests of the children involved. In Michigan family courts, there are 12 factors that come into play when determining the children’s best interests. Such factors include:

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties that exist between each party and the children;
  • The capacity and disposition of each party to provide what the children need;
  • The moral fitness of each party;
  • The mental and physical health of each party;
  • The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate the children’s relationship with the other; and
  • Any history of domestic violence on the part of either party.

Speak with a Michigan Family Law Attorney

If you want to modify a custody order in the Great Lake State, turn to Smith & Johnson for help. We have been representing Michigan citizens since 1965.

Our team fights tirelessly on behalf of our clients, and you can be sure we’re equipped to address all aspects of separation and divorce. Call 231-946-0700 or submit our Contact Form to schedule a free initial consultation with a family lawyer in Michigan.