In this case, the parties were awarded joint legal custody of WPS, with plaintiff awarded physical custody of WPS. The parties had ongoing disputes regarding medication, scheduling medical appointments, virtual schooling, and extracurricular activities for WPS.
Specifically, the parties disagreed (1) whether one of WPS’s medications was prescribed for every day, or only recommended on an as-needed basis; (2) whether plaintiff was permitted to schedule medical appointments for WPS without defendant’s approval, because defendant wanted to go to the appointments, but would not give plaintiff his work schedule; (3) the extent to which defendant worked with WPS on his schoolwork, and whether defendant should obtain the relevant passwords to log WPS into his schooling from defendant’s computer instead of relying on the laptop sent by plaintiff; and (4) whether plaintiff was permitted to enroll WPS in horseback riding lessons, without financial assistance from defendant, regardless of whether defendant consented to the activity.
Of specific importance, plaintiff scheduled a well check-up with WPS’s pediatrician for WPS but defendant asserted she had to change the date because he could not attend. Plaintiff refused, and defendant called the pediatrician after the appointment telling them he was going to sue them. Defendant’s actions resulted in the pediatrician’s office terminating its relationship with WPS.
Modify Custody and Parenting Time
These disagreements culminated in plaintiff’s motion to modify custody and parenting time, seeking an award of sole legal custody and to change defendant’s parenting time to the same number of days, but different days of the week, to correlate with defendant’s days off work because defendant was not spending all his parenting time with WPS.
Change in Circumstance
The trial court determined the change in circumstances involving WPS’s loss of his longtime pediatrician was sufficient to justify addressing legal custody. However, the trial court determined there were no changed circumstances warranting a review of parenting time because the only evidence provided was plaintiff’s allegation defendant was not home during his parenting time, which was not established by any persuasive evidence.
Trial Court Findings
The trial court addressed the best interest factors, under MCL 722.23, and found most to be neutral, but some to weigh in plaintiff’s favor. Specifically, the trial court noted defendant’s participation in WPS’s education was less than plaintiff’s and although both parents were able to provide for WPS’s material needs, plaintiff was more capable of providing medical care; thus, this factor weighed in favor plaintiff.
The trial court discussed the difference between the parties’ care for WPS’s medical needs, noting plaintiff was much more involved and defendant’s refusal to provide his schedule contributed to his own frustrations regarding his lack of involvement. The trial court was also concerned with defendant’s video recording of WPS’s medical appointments without the providers’ consent and defendant’s improper behavior with WPS’s medical providers.
Considering these facts, the trial court found clear and convincing evidence demonstrated the parties should retain joint legal custody, and parenting time should remain the same. However, the trial court gave plaintiff the exclusive right to make medical appointments and medical decisions for WPS and required defendant to administer WPS’s medication as prescribed or directed by WPS’s doctor.
The trial court ordered that the parties could enroll WPS in extracurricular activities during their own parenting time, and at their own expense.
Help with Child Custody & Parenting Time
Aldrich Legal Services assist parents with all types of child custody and parenting time matters, including, relocation, petitioning for or contesting modifications, enforcing child support orders, and negotiating child support agreements. Our firm is committed to helping you find resolutions to all your family law needs, allowing you to move on with your life in a positive way.