In cases where a child custody order has already been entered and one or both parents are seeking to change that order, the court has specific requirements to consider a motion to modify child custody. The court typically will only view events that have occurred since the previous order. The court must find that there has come to exist significant changes in circumstances, which have and will continue to have a significant effect on the parties’ children’s lives, to the extent that a re-evaluation of the custodial situation should be undertaken. These changes must be more than normal life changes that occur in the life of a child, and there is evidence that these material changes have had, and will almost certainly have a continued effect on the parties’ children. Vodvarka v Vodvarka, 259 Mich. App. 499 (2003).
If the court does determine that there has been a change of circumstances to re-evaluate the children’s custodial situation, the court must review the best interest factors.
The court has the authority and discretion to modify child support orders at anytime, until the child reaches 18 years old or until 19 ½ if they have not graduated from high school, but are full time students. In order for the court to permit a modification of previously ordered child support the court must determine that there has been proper cause or because of a change of circumstances.
The change in circumstances must result in a modification grater than 10% or $50.00 a month, whichever is greater, to be allowed. The purpose for this requirement is to keep people from repeatedly filing change of support motions which would have little to no effect on the currently ordered child support.
It is the burden of the parent seeking the modification of child support to establish that there has been a change of circumstances or proper cause sufficient to allow modification.
Spousal support, when awarded, can be modifiable, or if agreed to by the parties, non-modifiable. There are specific reasons for both types of spousal support, and it is advisable to speak to an experienced family law attorney about the pros and cons of each. Unless specific requirements are met and explicitly spelled out in a Judgment of Divorce, spousal support can be modified where there has been a change of circumstances.
If there has been a significant change of circumstances for either the person receiving support or the payer of support, the party may file a motion for modification of spousal support. The court will consider numerous factors before deciding whether modification, either up or down is appropriate.
Change of Domicile
A very controversial and increasingly frequent topic in family law is cases where one parent wants to leave the State of Michigan. Parents want to move for many reasons, although particularly, new employment, new spouses, etc. Thus, if you have a child and want to move out-of-state, particularly if you are the primary custodial parent, you must first get the other parents written consent or file a motion with court seeking permission to move. Judgments of Divorce, as well as Custody Orders have required language regarding out-of-state moves.
In the event that the parties are able to agree to the change of domicile, the parties may sign a written agreement, which if approved by the court will be entered as a court order. If applicable, these orders should discuss the specifics of the new parenting time schedule, transportation, and how the costs of transportation is going to be shared.
If the parties are unable to come to an agreement, the moving party may file a motion with the court seeking a change in domicile. It is important to note that these motions may take several months to be heard and decided by the court and filing the motion does not give a party the right to move. An evidentiary hearing (also known as trial) will be conducted and the party seeking the change of domicile has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that a change of domicile should be granted.
Under Michigan law, the court must consider the following factors, in determining whether to grant a change of domicile motion:
- Whether the legal residence change has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the child and the relocating parent.
- The degree to which each parent has complied with, and utilized his or her time under a court order governing parenting time with the child, and whether the parent’s plan to change the child’s legal residence is inspired by that parent’s desire to defeat or frustrate the parenting time schedule.
- The degree to which the court is satisfied that, if the court permits the legal residence change, it is possible to order a modification of the parenting time schedule and other arrangements governing the child’s schedule in a manner that can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship between the child and each parent; and whether each parent is likely to comply with the modification.
- The extent to which the parent opposing the legal residence change is motivated by a desire to secure a financial advantage with respect to a support obligation.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
In the event that this change of domicile changes the custodial environment, the burden of proof is higher and the court must also review the best interest factors.
Every change of domicile case is different with different facts and circumstances.
Modification Attorney Gaylord MI
Modifications to family law judgements can be done however, they may take time and be difficult. From custody and parenting time to child support, spousal support and change of domicile, a modification attorney can assist you in making these changes easier for everyone. If you are hoping to modify a judgement in regard to family law, The Law Offices of Daniel J. Harris, P.C. is a modification attorney in Gaylord MI.