734-359-7018
Now Accepting New Clients!
Blog

FAMILY LAW 37: Referee recommended against changing legal custody or parenting time.

In this case, Plaintiff moved to modify joint legal custody or parenting time. Plaintiff and defendant had joint legal custody and a parenting-time schedule with the child, primarily living with plaintiff during the school year and with defendant during the summer. Plaintiff asked for sole legal custody and additional parenting time during the summer.

Plaintiff requested sole legal custody, arguing that she and defendant had difficulty co-parenting and that defendant would not agree to medical treatment for the diagnosis and treatment of ADHD, need for orthodontic work, and need for vision testing and glasses. Plaintiff also requested an alternating weekly or biweekly schedule during the summer, which would increase her overall parenting time.

At the referee hearing, plaintiff testified about defendant’s nonparticipation in the diagnosis and treatment ADHD. At one point, defendant took the child off his stimulant medication, which required plaintiff to seek additional treatment to identify a more suitable medication. With the aid of a pediatric psychiatrist, whom defendant refused to see or take the child to, the child went on a suitable nonstimulant medication.

On the issue of parenting time, plaintiff opposed increasing defendant’s overnights during the school year to balance out her proposed expanded parenting time during the summer. Defendant opposed plaintiff’s request for expanded summer parenting time without a comparable decrease in her parenting time during the school year.

After the hearing, the referee found that the parties agreed that changed circumstances warranted revisiting custody and parenting time and that an established custodial environment existed with both parents.

The referee evaluated the best-interest factors under MCL 722.23, and determined that factors (a), (b), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), and (k) weighed equally or neutrally. The referee found that factor (c)—the capacity and disposition to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical treatment—favored plaintiff because she was better able to get medical treatment, while defendant delayed or made it inconvenient for plaintiff to get treatment. The referee found that factor (j) weighed against both parties because they had difficulty keeping their personal conflict separate from their co-parenting. The referee weighed factor (l) in favor of joint legal custody and directed the parties to work harder to be proper joint legal custodians.

The referee noted that defendant had become more engaged in medical treatment. The referee instructed the parties to seek judicial intervention to resolve disputes rather than resorting to unilateral action.

The referee ultimately concluded that plaintiff had not shown by clear and convincing evidence that granting her sole legal custody would be in child’s best interests. The trial court subsequently signed an order affirming the referee’s recommendations against changing legal custody or parenting time.

To modify a custody decision, the moving party must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that proper cause or changed circumstances warrant a modification of custody.

The trial court in this case found that although the parties were unable to make decisions together about the child’s medical treatment, the defendant-father demonstrated his willingness to acquiesce to the plaintiff-mother’s demands and remain open to the plaintiff’s opinions, while the plaintiff did not reciprocate. Plaintiff admitted that she resorted to unilateral decision-making because, according to plaintiff, defendant refused to participate.

The referee found that both parents exercised parenting time regularly and generally in accordance with court orders, except when the child’s interests required a deviation from the schedule. Testimony on the parenting-time schedule, the referee correctly found that plaintiff overstated the amount of time she went without seeing the child in the summer. The referee further noted that plaintiff’s proposal would significantly reduce the number of defendant’s overnights per year, which was consistent with plaintiff’s testimony that she did not agree that defendant should have additional overnights during the school year.

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.

If the divorce or separation process does not turn out like you thought it would, you may not have the custody or parenting time you deserve. Seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family law and divorce attorney who will be by your side every step of the way.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Basic responsibilities of an executor

Originally posted on 01/11/2017 The emotional toils of dealing with the death of a loved one can be considerably difficult. Nevertheless, perseverance is paramount; especially if you are appointed to be an executor to one’s...

What you need to compliment your will

Originally posted on 02/08/2017 Making end-of-life plans usually end with a will, but they shouldn't. Some believe that simply having a will is enough. However, this post will briefly explain how having other estate planning...

The benefits of home health care providers

Originally posted on 03/22/2017 As we get older or suffer an injury, we need a little extra help. Home health care providers or caregivers can provide the assistance needed to handle your or your loved one's health and safety...

What to know about bail conditions

Originally posted on 03/06/2017 If you have been arrested and are being held on the suspicion that you have committed a particular crime, chances are that the only thing you are thinking about is getting out of jail as soon as possible and...

College students and estate planning

Originally posted on 12/16/2016 With college semesters starting up in Michigan, it may not be so easy to get college students to think responsibly. This time can be especially tough with the need of moving back to school and getting...

Three reasons to put a power of attorney in place

Originally posted on 11/08/2016 While no one wants to think of the unfortunate possibility of being incapacitated or of a time when we can't handle our own affairs, this circumstance is a real possibility. If something happens and this...

How to approach parents about estate planning

Originally posted on 12/09/2016 Family forms a strong foundation for many people's first and most intimate community. It is important to strengthen these first relationships so even uncommon questions become natural. For those...

PROBATE 44: Petition for Mental Health Treatment

Michigan’s Mental Health Code governs the civil admission and discharge procedures for a person with a mental illness. Specifically, MCL 330.1434 sets forth the procedure and content requirements for a petition for mental health treatment.

Should you get your criminal record expunged?

Originally posted on 04/12/2017 If you have been convicted of a crime, have served your sentence, and have followed all court recommendations, you should be able to put your past behind you and move on with life. Moving forward is critical...

Choosing the right executor for an estate

Originally posted on 05/28/2017 When people are thinking about planning their estate, they often think about trying to minimize the estate tax, keeping their will updated, and keeping items out of probate court; however, there is another...

Understanding how the Miranda warning works

Originally posted on 11/25/2016 Michigan residents who have seen television police shows or movies involving law enforcement have no doubt watched many dramatic scenes with officers quoting something to the effect of, "You have the...

Don't let a bad decision, unfair contract, or a messy divorce get in the way of a promising future!
Contact the experienced team at Aldrich Legal Services today to schedule your free initial
consultation
and secure reliable and trustworthy representation today!
Get the Help You Need From a Team You Can Truly Count On: (734) 404-3000
734-237-6482
734-366-4405