734-359-7018
Now Accepting New Clients!
Blog

FAMILY LAW 65: The court held that because the ECE was not altered by the change of school districts, the referee properly applied the preponderance of the evidence standard when reviewing the best interest and parenting time factors.

BASIC FACTS

The parties divorced in 2018. Their judgment of divorce provided that plaintiff would have primary physical custody and that the parties would have joint legal custody of the two minor children. The judgment of divorce stated that the children would continue to attend school in the Harper Creek school district but that if plaintiff were promoted at Meijer, she could ask the court for a change in schools. In November 2019, plaintiff filed a motion for a change in schools on the basis that she had received a promotion at a different location within Meijer.  Following an evidentiary hearing, the referee found that the proposed change in the parenting-time order would not alter the children’s established custodial environment, which was with both parents, and that a change in schools and the accompanying modification in defendant’s parenting time was in the children’s best interests by a preponderance of the evidence. The referee recommended that plaintiff’s motion be granted.  Defendant filed an objection to the referee’s findings and recommendations. Following an evidentiary hearing on defendant’s objections, the trial court entered an order adopting the referee’s findings and recommendations. This appeal followed.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

All orders and judgments of the circuit court shall be affirmed on appeal unless the trial judge made findings of fact against the great weight of evidence or committed a palpable abuse of discretion or a clear legal error on a major issue. For parenting-time matters, if the proposed change does not alter the established custodial environment, a preponderance of the evidence must demonstrate that the change would be in the best interests of the child. If the proposed change alters the established custodial environment and therefore amounts to a change in custody, there must be clear and convincing evidence that the change would be in the child’s best interests.

BURDEN OF PROOF

Defendant argues that the referee’s finding that the proposed change did not alter the children’s custodial environment was against the great weight of the evidence and therefore plaintiff was required to prove by clear and convincing evidence rather than a preponderance of the evidence that a change in schools and the accompanying change in the parenting-time order was in the children’s best interests. Defendant believes that the children’s established custodial environment was altered because his parenting time was significantly reduced and because the “day-to-day role with his children [could not] simply be made up by adding an occasional fifth weekend or one week in the summer of parenting time.” Although defendant received less parenting time under the trial court’s final order than under the judgment of divorce, defendant testified that he was unable to dedicate the amount of time he would have liked to each child during his midweek parenting time because he had to balance his time with each child. Therefore, as the referee suggested, the increase in the frequency of overnights along with extra time during the summer would allow defendant to spend more meaningful, quality time with the children. Because the modification in parenting time would not change the children’s established custodial environment, the referee properly applied a preponderance-of-the-evidence standard to the best-interests analysis.

CONCLUSION

 In sum, because the established custodial environment was not altered by the change of school districts, the referee correctly applied the preponderance-of-the-evidence standard when reviewing the best-interest and parenting-time factors

ADVICE TO CLIENTS FACING ISSUES IN FAMILY LAW CASES

Aldrich Legal Services understands what a stressful time this is for you when you have custody issues.

Aldrich Legal Services represent parents throughout southeast Michigan with a wide range of family law related matters.

Contact Aldrich Legal Services

Speak to a Pro: (734) 404-3000

FAMILY LAW 77: Court awarded plaintiff sole legal custody; defendant was unwilling to work with plaintiff.

For joint custody to work, parents must be able to agree with each other on basic issues in child rearing including health care, religion, education, day to day decision making and discipline and they must be willing to cooperate with each other in joint decision making. If two equally capable parents are unable to cooperate and to agree generally concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of their children, the court has no alternative but to determine which parent shall have sole custody of the children.

CRIMINAL 19: Sentencing guidelines are advisory.

The sentencing guidelines are advisory, and although a trial court must determine the applicable guidelines range and take it into account when imposing a sentence, the court is not required to sentence a defendant within that range.

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...

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