Modification of Judgment of Divorce | Custody and Support Orders


Rochester Michigan Family Law Lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski


The following provisions in a divorce judgment may be modified at any time: child support, spousal support, child custody, and parenting time (visitation) if a parent proves good cause or a significant change in circumstances. A party may seek an increase, a decrease or cancellation of support payments. If there is sufficient good cause or change in circumstances, physical and/or legal child custody can be modified, as well as parenting time. But there's the rub: the change in circumstances must be substantial in order to get a trial court to re-examine and change the provisions.

Because it's so difficult to prove a sufficient change in circumstances or good cause, you should be sure to seek all of the custody and/or parenting time that you want prior to the entry of judgment. Don't let your spouse or your lawyer bully you into agreeing to something that you're not comfortable with, because getting it changed later is easier said than done. Family Court dockets are very crowded these days and it can take months just to get a hearing on a modification motion. Moreover, the courts are likely to look at a modification motion as complaining or as pestering.

Under Michigan law, the courts won't even hear a modification issue unless it raises facts suggesting a substantial change in circumstances. To establish ‘proper cause’ necessary to revisit a custody order, a movant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence the existence of an appropriate ground for legal action to be taken by the trial court. The appropriate ground(s) should be relevant to at least one of the twelve statutory best interest factors, and must be of such magnitude to have a significant effect on the child's well-being. Not just any change will suffice, for over time there will always be some changes in a child's environment, behavior, and well-being. Instead, the evidence must demonstrate something more than the normal life changes (both good and bad )that occur during the life of a child, and there must be at least some evidence that the material changes have had or will almost certainly have an effect on the child.

Obtaining a post-divorce modification is a two-step process:

1. First you must prove that a modification warranted. Every case turns on its specific facts, and it's essential to prove that the changes are substantial. To get a change in child support, you must prove a significant change in income. If you want a change in custody, there has to a major change in circumstances. Some of the things that have proven successful in the courts are: a parent is moving out of state; the children's performance in school has changed for the worse; a substantial a change in the behavior of a child. These changes must be examined in light of the best interests of the child factors to determine whether a child custody change is warranted.
2. Only if the court determines that the good cause or the change in circumstances is sufficient, will it schedule a hearing to determine what the new custody arrangement should be.

Michigan ’s 100-Mile Rule

When the parents share legal custody, a law called the “100-Mile Rule” affects the right to modifications of divorce judgments. As long as this rule applies, then a custodial parent cannot move more than 100 miles without a court order. When a custodial parent wants to move, it's usually difficult to find a compromise. So these are tough cases, and rarely present a win-win situation.

There are exceptions to the 100-Mile Rule. It doesn't apply if the parents lived more than 100 miles from each other at the time the custody action was filed. And it does not apply if one parent has sole custody of children. Thus if a parent has sole custody of the children, then they can move without having to get a court order.

To schedule an initial meeting with family lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski or just ask a question, call or send an e-mail today. You will find fact-gathering questionnaires on this website. Fill them out and mail them in to Ms. Sadowski's office or schedule an appointment and bring them with you.

Contact Rochester, Michigan divorce lawyer, Elizabeth Sadowski at (248) 652-4000  Email:  elizabeth.sadowski [at]

Family lawyer Elizabeth Sadowski serves clients throughout northern Oakland and Macomb Counties . © 2009 Elizabeth Sadowski

►  No fee referrals within Michigan and/or to other states’ attorneys

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This website is intended to provide only a brief overview of family law in Michigan. If you have any questions regarding your family law matter, contact me today. I will discuss your legal needs and provide you with information to protect you and your family for years to come.

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Elizabeth A. Sadowski, Family Lawyer
Colbert Shepard & Sadowski LLP
431 6th Street, Rochester, MI  48307
• E-mail: elizabeth.sadowski [at]
Telephone: (248) 652-4000  Telefax:  (248) 652-1259

Practice Areas: Divorce  Custody  Parenting Time  Child Support Post-Judgment Modifications  Paternity  Adoption  Personal Protection Orders  Spousal Support  Property Distribution  Pre-Nuptial / Post-Nuptial Agreements Estate Planning Guardianships/Conservatorships  Neglect/Abuse Cases 

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

Copyright © 2009 Elizabeth A. Sadowski. All rights reserved

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