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FAMILY LAW 72: Plaintiff’s refusal to cooperate regarding parenting time results in change of custody.

The parties entered a consent judgment of divorced on, which provided them joint legal and physical custody of their only child, JM, and set a regular parenting time schedule under which defendant had parenting time every other weekend and on one night every other week.

Disputes arose regarding parenting time, JM’s vaccinations, and JM’s participation in tutoring and therapy, resulting in the filing of various motions. The circuit court held hearings and entered orders, some of which plaintiff refused to obey.

Defendant planned a vacation cruise with JM for his parenting time during JM’s spring break, but plaintiff refused to abide by the consent judgment of divorce’s terms requiring her cooperation which prompted defendant to seek the court’s assistance. The circuit court granted the motion and ordered plaintiff to stop interfering with defendant’s parenting time and sanctioned plaintiff for doing so and violating the consent judgment of divorce.

Move for Change of Custody

Then plaintiff unilaterally refused to allow defendant to exercise parenting time which prompted defendant to move for a change of custody, modification of parenting time, and modification of child support.

A party seeking to modify an existing child custody order must first establish proper cause or a change of circumstances before the trial court may reopen the custody matter.

Best Interest Factors

Factor (j) concerns the willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. MCL 722.23(j).

The record reflects that plaintiff refused to cooperate with defendant regarding defendant’s parenting time until the circuit court intervened to enforce defendant’s rights. The record indicates that defendant never prevented plaintiff from exercising her parenting time with JM. The circuit court considered and weighed all the evidence and determined that MCL 722.23(j) weighed in defendant’s favor.

Court Grants Change in Parenting Time

After conducting an evidentiary hearing at which the circuit court heard testimony and considered the best-interest factors set forth in MCL 722.23, the circuit court determined that factors (a), (b), (e), (f), (g), and (k) favored neither party, but factors (c), (d), (h), (j), and (l) favored defendant. The circuit court ruled that modification of its previous custody order served JM’s best interests and granted defendant’s motion to change custody, change the parenting time schedule, and modify child support.

Assistance With Post-Decree Modifications

It is important to remember that decrees regarding child support and child custody are not always final. Circumstances change all the time, which is why it is possible to seek a post-decree modification. Contact Aldrich Legal Services if you would like to meet with one of our lawyers about your case. You may also send us an email at any time.

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