You and your ex have decided on a custody arrangement that works for you and the court has approved it. Generally, this means that you and your ex are legally bound by the terms of that parental order. But what happens if your life circumstances change and you need to modify the order?
Under Michigan’s custody law, a ‘proper cause or change in circumstances’ may warrant a modification in parenting time. However, this change need not be the significant change in circumstances required to change a custody order. As long as the modification does not ‘alter the established custodial environment,’ it is likely that it will be classified as a modification of parenting time, not custody, and get approved by the court.
Filing a motion to change parenting time
The process of modification begins with a filing of a motion to change parenting time. Sometimes, both parents will agree on the modification, but other times, only one parent will seek to modify the parties’ order. In either case, one parent, as the moving party, will file the motion and serve the motion to the other party, or the respondent, to inform them of the date of the hearing. The other party will then have to appear and respond by the date listed on the notice of hearing. The respondent should is advised to respond to the notice, even if they agree to the change. Without a response, the court may hear the case and decide to modify the agreement without input from the other party.
At the hearing, the court may encourage the parties to go to mediation, but if the parties decline, the hearing will proceed in front of a judge or referee. Once both sides have presented their case, a decision will be made. If the motion is granted, a new order reflecting the change to parenting time will go into effect (once it is signed by the judge).
A family law attorney in your area can help you through the modification process to ensure that your parenting time agreement changes with the needs of your family.