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FAMILY LAW 80: The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion to change domicile.

This case concerns a custody dispute between plaintiff and defendant related to their minor child, KSJ. Plaintiff and defendant were in an on and off relationship for approximately six years, having broken up in approximately 2017.

Consent Judgment

In July 2016, plaintiff filed a complaint for child support from defendant. In October 2016, a consent judgment of support was entered. The consent judgment awarded plaintiff sole physical custody of KSJ, awarded defendant parenting time on an alternating schedule, addressed parenting time for holidays and summer breaks, and ordered defendant to pay child support to plaintiff.

Emergency Motion

In September 2020, defendant filed an emergency motion for change of custody, asserting that plaintiff had been evicted from a residence and had moved into a shelter without notifying defendant of either fact. Defendant also expressed concern that KSJ would become homeless and stated that he could provide a suitable home for her.

Plaintiff responded, indicating the move to the shelter was temporary and that she had informed defendant of her eviction and move. In addition, plaintiff moved for a change of domicile. Plaintiff sought to move to Houghton Lake, where she had been approved for housing assistance for an apartment. Defendant responded, rejecting plaintiff’s suggested parenting-time adjustments because her proposed move was 2½ hours away from defendant.

Friend of the Court

The case was referred to the Friend of the Court for investigation. Friend of the Court counselor submitted a report and recommendation to the trial court, which recommended denying plaintiff’s request for a change of domicile but not changing the current custody. However, that if a change of domicile was granted, defendant should maintain physical custody.

Trial Court

The trial court denied plaintiff’s motion to change domicile. The trial court noted plaintiff’s testimony that the move was designed to provide KSJ with more stability, however, that since the evidentiary hearing, plaintiff’s employment changed again, with her new work hours resulting in frustrating the current parenting time exchange schedule. The trial court also found that there was no testimony regarding the quality of the school district in Houghton Lake or how it compared to KSJ’s current school.

Assistance With Post-Decree Modifications

It is important to remember that decrees regarding child support, child custody, and parenting time 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 and schedule a free consultation if you would like to meet with one of our lawyers about your case.

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