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What is an established custodial environment?

If you or your child’s other parent is interested in making changes to your child custody agreement in Michigan, the judge will have to determine whether the modification is in the best interests of your child. According to the Michigan Custody Guideline, this includes verifying whether there is an established custodial environment already in place in your home, the other parent’s home, or both.

Several factors contribute to the custodial environment, and it is not assumed to be established just because a parent has sole custody. The judge will take into consideration the physical aspect of the home or homes where your child lives, as well as how old your child is and the stability of the relationship with each parent. This includes which of you is the parent that your child primarily turns to when he or she requires comfort, physical needs, guidance and discipline, or if you each fill this role.

If there is no evidence of a clearly established custodial environment, the judge may decide to approve a custody modification, even without convincing proof that circumstances have changed. But, if the custodial environment has been recognized by the court, then the modification may not be approved without the evidence of a significant change in the living situation that warrants it.

Although this information may help you to understand the elements that contribute to the custodial environment, these are not the only factors that will be considered during a child custody modification case. Therefore, it should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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