Maybe one of you got a new job, has started a new relationship or simply wants to move to be closer to family. Whatever the reason, parents may feel the need to change a child custody arrangement.
If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. Life changes, the courts understand. However, in an effort to better ensure the children’s best interests are met the court does have certain requirements before it will allow parents to change child custody orders. The process will vary depending on the state, because family law is generally governed by state laws. This piece will focus on the process for those who are attempting to make the change in Michigan. It is also important to note that the current child custody agreement is in effect until a judge signs a modification.
The process generally begins by filing a motion with the court to change the child custody order. The court will then give you a hearing date. The following tips can help to ease the process.
- Communicate with the other parent, if possible. Ideally, get the other parent to agree to the proposed modification. Although you will still need a judge to sign off on the proposed modification to make it official, success is more likely if the parents are in agreement.
- Be wary of court dates. It is important to manage your time before moving forward with a motion to change a child custody order. If you are the parent filing for a change, you will generally need to schedule a hearing. When scheduled, you must give the other parents 9 days’ notice of the court hearing if mailing the notice or 7 days’ notice if hand delivering. Those who wish to file a written response to the motion must generally do so at least 3 days prior to the hearing. Courts are very strict about deadlines. A failure to abide by the deadlines can mean you lose your case.
- Explain the reason for the change. A judge can generally only provide a modification if the requesting parent can establish proper cause or change in circumstance.
The modification process can take time. Parents can seek legal counsel to help advocate for their interests and better ensure a favorable outcome.