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Relocation and other child custody modification issues

When the Michigan judge overseeing your divorce signed a decree, you and your ex became obligated to adhere to all terms of the agreement. These terms are legally enforceable. For example, if you are parents and have a child custody order in place that states you must transfer custody on a specific rotating schedule, it is a legally binding agreement. You can’t change it on a whim. In fact, the only way to change it is to file a petition for modification.

The court must grant child custody modification. Unless that happens, you and your ex must continue to carry out the terms of the original agreement. There are numerous legitimate reasons why the court might see fit to grant modification. One such issue is in the title of this blog post — relocation. You might accept a job in another state, which would mean you can no longer adhere to the custody transfer schedule. This is one of several reasons why a judge might grant a petition to change a custody order.

Reasons the court might grant child custody modification

In addition to relocation of one or both parents, the issues shown in the following list are also common among those who request child custody modification following a Michigan divorce:

  • Mental illness of a parent
  • Parental substance abuse
  • Medical needs
  • Children are at risk under current circumstances
  • Parent has been in jail
  • Evidence of neglect or abuse
  • Completion of a rehabilitation program

If you file a petition to request child custody modification, you must be prepared to show just cause. This means that you must present evidence that convinces the court you have a legitimate reason for requesting the change. You must also demonstrate that the modification would be in the best interests of your children.

What if one parent wants modification but the other parent doesn’t?

While it’s not impossible to obtain child custody modification if your ex is against the change, it will no doubt be more challenging to win the court’s favor than it might have been if you and your ex agreed on the issue. In such cases, there must be a court hearing. The judge overseeing your case will determine whether the change you have requested (despite your ex’s disagreement) would be the best way to provide for your children’s needs.

Perhaps a judge restricted your visits with your kids to supervised visits only when you finalized your divorce because of a gambling problem or substance abuse issues. Maybe you have since completed rehabilitation and are filing a petition for modification to ask the court to remove the supervision restriction. If your ex is against this, you will both present your case in court, and the judge will decide. If you and your ex are not in agreement on a custody issue, it’s best to seek legal counsel before heading to court.