Child Custody Modification in Grand Rapids, MI
When it comes to a change of custody petition, no case is the same. Some of our clients arrived at Kraayeveld Law because they knew for quite a long time that a change of custody was inevitable; some of them arrived shocked and hurt because the modification order was completely unexpected. Others have a custody and parenting time agreement in place, and it’s about to change.
Custody arrangements can be modified for several reasons, often because the other parent made a poor choice remarrying, you or the other parent changed jobs which required relocation, or the other parent simply made poor life choices, such as abusing alcohol, abusing prescription pain medication, or failing to treat mental illness. In many cases, we see parents signing a final order or judgment hoping that the other parent will stabilize or change their ways. After giving them some time, it only gets worse. Before matters escalate, parents are wise to seek legal guidance with a knowledgeable team of child custody lawyers in Grand Rapids experienced in modification orders.
What Does It Take to Change Custody?
Michigan law allows for a change of custody sometimes, but only under certain circumstances. The law provides that a “change in circumstances” must have occurred or that “proper cause” exists before the judge will listen to testimony about a change of custody.
What is a change in circumstances and how important is it really? Michigan law provides that the parent who wants to change custody must show to the court that “since the entry of the last custody order, the conditions surrounding the custody of the child, which have or could have a significant effect on the child’s well-being, have materially changed”. The judge will not even consider a parent’s request to change custody if that parent does not show to the court that something significant has changed.
There is no black and white rulebook that provides easy answers, but case law provides some guidance. The judge will only look at changes that occurred after the latest custody order. In other words, if you just file a motion for change of custody a few months ago and it was denied, and you want to file another motion for change of custody, you must show that something significant changed during those last few months since the last custody order. For that reason, it’s very important that you only file a motion for change of custody when you are prepared, and you should file with the assistance of the attorneys at Kraayeveld Law.
Whatever change you want to show the judge must be significant; it can’t be a normal life change (either good or bad) such as a child moving from elementary to middle school, becoming involved in sports, or displaying some normal teenage behaviors. The attorneys at our firm have the experience to determine which changes are significant enough to file a motion for change of custody.
How Difficult Is It to Change Custody?
Because every case is different, only an experienced child custody attorney can give you advice. There are so many facets that will impact a case: your current court order, the reason why you want to change custody, the other parent’s anticipated reaction to your motion, the assigned judge, each parent’s financial situation to support the litigation, and the availability of third-party testimony. Even so, every case has one thing in common: either the other parent must agree to the change of custody or you will have to prove to the judge that your circumstances have changed enough for the judge to hear testimony about what is best for your child.
In some circumstances, it requires the assistance of experts, such as a forensic psychologist, a guardian ad litem, a child custody investigator, psychological evaluations, and extensive discovery. To request a modification in child custody requires the assistance of an experienced attorney.
The Grand Rapids child custody lawyers at our firm know the law very well and know which facts can be presented to the judge so that the judge will hear testimony about your request to change custody. It is extremely important to be successful during these early stages of a change of custody proceeding. If the judge denies your request to change custody because you did not show a change in circumstances, you cannot repeatedly keep filing similar requests. For that reason, preparation and experienced representation is key to success when a change of custody is necessary.
Explore Your Options and Protect Your Rights With the Help of Our Grand Rapids Child Custody Lawyers
If you have questions about an established custody order and would like assistance with modifying child custody agreements or contesting a change in custody arrangements, contact Kraayeveld Law today to schedule a consultation. We serve clients in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan.