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FAMILY LAW 36: Trial court found proper cause because health and education are important subjects relating to custody.

In this child custody matter, plaintiff-mother’s files motion for sole legal custody of their two minor children.

The hotly disputed issue in this case is the medical care of the children. From October 2016 to May 2017, the two children visited the pediatrician a total of 28 times. In between those visits, defendant repeatedly took the children to after-hours clinics seeking antibiotics.

The parties disagreed over how to characterize the nature and frequency of these medical visits. Plaintiff believed the visits were medical child abuse and lodged a complaint with Child Protective Services, which declined to investigate.

Defendant believed that each visit was a medical necessity.

The various doctors who testified generally agreed that defendant was aggressive in seeking treatment for his children, but that he acted appropriately and did not cross the line into medical abuse.

Defendant argues that the trial court committed error when it failed to conduct an interview and consider the reasonable preferences of the children and let the parties stipulated that no interview was necessary or desirable.

The Child Custody Act requires that the court consider the reasonable preference of the child, if one exists. This is true regardless of whether the parties wished for an interview. Here, the trial court considered whether interviewing the children would be necessary or beneficial and ultimately agreed with the parties that an interview was not necessary.

Defendant argues that the trial court (1) failed to consider the children’s reasonable preferences, (2) failed to make a threshold finding regarding a change in circumstances before considering the children’s best interests and (3) that no such change in circumstances existed, (4) improperly considered the routine medical decisions at issue to have a bearing on joint legal custody, and (5) based its determination of the best interests of the children on factual findings that were against the great weight of the evidence.

To establish proper cause, the moving party must establish by a preponderance of the evidence an appropriate ground that would justify the trial court’s taking action. The trial court found that proper cause was established because the children’s health and education are two very important subjects relating to custody. When parents cannot agree on a child’s medical treatment and educational course, these topics can have significant effects on a child’s well-being.

If you are going through a divorce or are separating from the mother or father of your children, it is important to protect your custodial rights.

At the Plymouth and Ann Arbor law firm of Aldrich Legal Services, our attorneys represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of custody-related matters..

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