Michigan Child Custody & Parenting Time
Custody and parenting time are always modifiable in Michigan, even after a divorce, until the children reach the age of 18. While it is unfortunate, there are times and reasons that one parent may not be able to handle parenting time as ordered in the judgment. Sometimes, the custodial arrangements must be changed. In those cases, the parent seeking to change or modify the situation has the burden to prove that the current arrangements are no longer in the best interests of the child or children.
School & Attendance Matter in Michigan Child Custody Cases
Regardless of whether school is remote, due to Covid-19, hybrid, or in-person, it is of the utmost importance to make sure that the kids are getting to school on time and attending classes. Failure to attend classes on-time during one parent’s scheduled parenting time is a red-flag to any family law judge or referee. It is an objective measurement of one of the basic requirements in today’s society, obtaining an education so that one may succeed in life.
Further, a child’s change in grades for the worse and a parent’s failure to take action with regards to the grades or missing projects is basic evidence that should be used in any custody or parenting time modification. The court and friend of the court are very concerned that children are at the very least getting their basic needs met and education is considered a basic need in Michigan’s family law tribunals. If a child is not doing well in school, there should be a record of the parents’ interactions with the teachers and staff, work towards an individual education plan (IEP), consultations with therapists, or other individuals/resources to help the child. Failure by one parent and a willingness and ability to take the initiative on the part of the other parent is very compelling to the courts.
Conversely, if a child is on-time, attending classes and doing well in school, then that is evidence that a change in custody or parenting time might not be a good idea. If you are faced with pressure to modify the schedule, one very solid defense is to point out how well the child is doing in school and that a disruption in the schedule could have a negative effect on this positive aspect of the child’s life.
How Hard is it to Modify Parenting Time in Michigan?
While in theory, modifying the parenting schedule is always possible, the courts have made it fairly difficult to do in practice. Stability is considered in the best interests of children, and it takes some fairly overwhelming evidence to convince the court that the judgment should be amended.
As mentioned above, performance in school can be evidence that is convincing, one way or the other. Keep meticulous records for your family law attorney to help them with your case. Also, talk to your child. If the other parent is letting them stay up too late, go out with friends too often, or not getting them to school everyday, then you’ll want to take note of that as well.
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