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MICHIGAN FAMILY LAW 93: Parents’ relationship had become so bitter court determined it was necessary to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issues of custody.

Defendant gave birth out of wedlock to plaintiff’s natural and legal son in July 2009. The parties ended their romantic relationship soon thereafter and set up separate residences. In October 2012, plaintiff filed a complaint requesting joint legal and physical custody of AH and asking that child support be ordered under the Michigan Child Support Guidelines.

Consent Judgment

In 2013, the trial court entered a consent judgment addressing custody and parenting time. Specifically, the consent judgment granted plaintiff and defendant joint legal custody of AH, defendant was granted primary physical custody of AH, and plaintiff was afforded parenting time and ordered to pay child support. The court recommended that the two parents should work with a parenting coordinator or complete a parenting program to decrease conflicts and preserve joint legal custody.

For more than ten years, AH’s parents have litigated over almost every aspect of his life. Throughout the last decade, the parents’ relationship has become so acrimonious that neither the court system nor trained professionals can manage the fallout from the dysfunction.

Evidentiary Hearing

Despite the entry of the consent order, the parties’ participation in a parenting program was unsuccessful in the long term and the parties remained unable to effectively communicate or make decisions concerning AH. Thus, the trial court determined it was necessary to hold an evidentiary hearing on the issues of custody.

Testimony focused on the parties’ relationships with AH, the parties’ differences of opinion on AH’s education and medical care, and the parties’ mutual failure to foster a relationship between AH and one another. The undisputed evidence revealed that AH spent most of his time in defendant’s care throughout his life, and that defendant was his primary caregiver during that time. Defendant ensured that AH’s physical needs were met, that AH was enrolled in school, and that AH received medical care. In contrast, plaintiff agreed that he had never transported AH to dental appointments. Plaintiff also did not attend most of AH’s medical appointments. AH felt more secure in his relationship with defendant, with whom he spent the majority of his time and to whom he looked for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort.

Defendant Awarded Sole Legal and Physical Custody

The trial court found that clear and convincing evidence established that a change of custody was in AH’s best interests, noting the parties were unable or unwilling to work together to reach an agreement on AH’s education and medical treatment. The trial court found that it was in AH’s best interests for defendant to have sole legal and physical custody. Plaintiff was provided parenting time.

Assistance With Custody and Child Support Issues

It is important to remember that decrees regarding child support and child custody are not always final. Seek the advice and guidance of an experienced family law and divorce attorney who will be by your side every step of the way.

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