Child Custody Proceedings
Changing custody is no small matter. Consequently, attempts to change the existing custodial arrangement often fail. That is to say, the court may only modify the custody arrangement if the evidence is clear and convincing that a change in custody is a child's best interests.
In determining whether a change in custody is in a child's best interest, the court is required to find that in the examination of the factors there is clear and convincing evidence of a compelling reason for a change in custody.
The Child Custody Act authorizes a trial court to modify child custody, support, and parenting time orders “for proper cause shown or because of change of circumstances,” and if in the child’s best interests. MCL 722.27(1)(c).
Notwithstanding the present custody arrangement, the first step is to determine whether an "established custodial environment" exists. An "established custodial environment" exists with the parent to whom the child(ren) look solely to provide guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort. If this is true of your situation, then you may have a strong case for primary physical custody.
In custody disputes between parents, the parents must be advised of “joint custody.” At the request of either parent, the court must consider an award of joint custody, and state on the record the reasons for granting or denying a joint custody request. In other cases, the court may consider joint custody. The court must determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child by considering the 12 “best interest” factors set forth in MCL §722.23.
On the other hand, if the parents agree on joint custody, the court must award joint custody unless the court determines on the record, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.
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