My Child Wants to Live with Me: Can I Request a Change in Custody?
It is always difficult when a couple divorces. Even the most agreeable separations bring emotional and logistical challenges.
This is especially true when the divorcing partners have children. One issue that must be decided during the divorce process is child custody.
Sometimes, the divorce process is so overwhelming that the child’s preferences about custody are overlooked.
Following a divorce, you may be wondering how to request a change in custody, particularly if your child has expressed a desire to live with you.
Below, we will examine issues surrounding changes in custody arrangements in Michigan.
Custody Agreements in Michigan
When the divorcing parents are unable to agree on a child custody arrangement, the overseeing judge will decide custody. They make this decision with the best interests of the child in mind.
Under Michigan state law, a judge must consider the preferences of the child when making a custody ruling. However, this is not the only factor that a judge needs to consider.
- The relationship between the child and parents
- Each parent’s ability to provide for the child
- Each parent’s household stability
- Any history of domestic violence
- The school, home, and community life of the child
For the court to consider the preferences of the child, the child must be of an appropriate age. There is no standard age for when a child can express their opinion. Instead, each judge will consider whether they believe that the child is old enough and mature enough to state a preference.
Requesting a Custody Order Change
Child custody orders are not necessarily permanent. The court is permitted to change a custody order any time before the child is 18 years of age.
To change a custody agreement, one parent needs to request the modification and a judge must agree. Parents should contact a skilled family law attorney to make a formal modification request.
Courts will change a custody order provided that the requesting parent can show:
- A significant change of circumstances affecting the child
- Custody modification is in the child’s best interests
If a judge believes the request is rightly motivated by these two factors, they can grant the modification.
In most cases, a change in the child’s preferences alone is not enough to warrant a custody order modification. Instead, there must be a substantial change in circumstances.
The change must have occurred since the judge filed the initial custody order. Some of the most common examples of qualifying changes in circumstance include:
- A parent is continually absent
- A parent is abusing alcohol or a controlled substance
- A parent fails to provide proper care for the child
- The child has been neglected or abused
Although a child’s opinion may change over time, the courts are only concerned with the child’s best interests. The child’s preferences are only one factor that the courts consider.
Contact a Family Law Attorney
If you have questions regarding child custody orders, speak with an accomplished family law attorney. Gucciardo Family Law provides premier legal services in Michigan.
Contact Gucciardo Family Law today to schedule your free initial consultation. Our caring legal team can help you and your family determine the best path forward.
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