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
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
To schedule an initial meeting with family lawyer
Elizabeth Sadowski or just ask a question, call or send an e-mail
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
(248) 652-4000 Email:
elizabeth.sadowski [at] gmail.com
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
consultation fee unless retained