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MICHIGAN DIVORCE 78: Mother and father were both unable to adequately parent the children.

Mother and father were married and shared four children: LF1, LF2, BF, and KF. Father and mother’s relationship involved domestic violence, and they both abused substances. They ultimately divorced, and it was determined by mother’s family members that mother and father were unable to adequately parent the children.

In 2014, W successfully petitioned for custody of BF and KF. In 2015, H successfully obtained custody of LF2, and Gregory and Nicole, mother’s parents, were granted custody of LF1.

Change of Custody

In 2018, mother began to demonstrate sobriety. Father also began making positive changes in his life.

In April 2021, father moved the trial court to grant him sole legal and physical custody of the children, arguing proper cause or a change of circumstances existed to revisit the custody orders. A clinical social worker recommended that the children be returned to father’s care in a gradual manner and with therapeutic support because of the amount of time the children had spent in the care of their guardians.

After father filed his motion for custody, the mother moved for custody of LF1.

Trial Court

The contested custody hearing was held over several months. The parties disputed father’s ability to parent the children and provide them with a stable environment. After interviewing the children in camera after the close of proofs, the trial court made detailed findings of fact on the record. The trial court reviewed the best-interest factors contained in MCL 722.23, and noted the relevant standard of proof was clear and convincing evidence. After reviewing the best-interest factors, the trial court continued the custody arrangements for BF, KF, LF2 and granted mother sole physical custody of LF1.

LF1 began to spend a significant amount of time with mother in the months leading up to the custody determination, and evidence supports LF1 and mother were bonded.

Experience with Michigan Divorces

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