How to Change Child Custody in Michigan

Child custody matters can be costly and time-consuming. No other issue is as close to the heart for our clients as those situations which require a child custody battle. Messy custody battles can have lasting effects on clients and children alike. You need an experienced attorney with an understanding of the law and how it applies to your case. So, what showing must be made for a court to modify child custody?

Do I Have Standing?

The first requirement, of course, is that one must be a parent to assert custody rights in Michigan. So, if you are only thought to be the father, you may have to establish paternity first. Also of significant importance is that grandparents and other family members have virtually no right to assert any kind of custody rights over a child’s parents. If parental rights are terminated, it may be possible for family members to obtain temporary custody or guardianship over a minor child—and in very limited circumstances full custody rights—but those parental rights must be terminated first.

Two-Part Analysis

To modify child custody in Michigan, one must first show that there is proper cause to modify a custody order, or that there is a change in circumstances which warrants modification. Also, the change in circumstances must be significant. So, just because a minor child does not want to live with one parent as opposed to another, modification would not be appropriate without showing more. Once proper cause or a change in circumstances has been established, the court must determine whether modifying child custody is in the best interests of the child. Twelve factors exist in making this determination. Every judge is different, so how those factors are evaluated is dependent on the particular judge. However, they are expected to consider all factors together in reaching a decision as opposed to zeroing in on just a couple factors.