Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My name is Terry R. Bankert

I am a Flint Divorce Attorney. In a recent Michigan Court Of Appeals unpublished decision several issues were discussed. This unpublished opinion was released 3/9/2010. It involved a Lapeer County Divorce Case 95-021724. As a Flint Divorce Lawyer this is the law we rely on in Flint Family Court and in State Wide Divorce actions. To find your courts state wide see, .

The opinion stated in part the following.

Father protested to the higher court the Lapeer family Court trial court’s order changing a prior custody order under which the parties had week on/week off parenting time with their son, to permit

The child to attend Cranbrook School as a boarding student. The trial court did not change the
parties’ joint legal custody. The Michigan Court said the Lapeer Court was right.
Did you know that in a Divorce case action post judgement before the trial court can change a child’s custody, an evidentiary hearing must be conducted. Schlender v Schlender, 235 Mich App 230, 233; 596 NW2d 643 (1999).

A Family Law Court before changing child custody is required prerequisite to the evidentiary hearing, the trial court must determine that there is “proper cause” or there has been a “change of circumstances.” Vodvarka v Grasmeyer, 259 Mich App 499, 508-514; 675 NW2d 847 (2003).
Did you know that changing a child’s established custodial environment requires the trial court to consider the twelve “best interest factors” under MCL 722.23 and find “clear and convincing evidence that [the change] is in the best interest of the child.” Foskett v Foskett, 247 Mich App 1, 5; 634 NW2d 363 (2001).

Did you know that a Flint Family law Court as this Lapeer County Court must “evaluate each of the factors contained in the Child Custody Act, MCL 722.23 . . . and state a conclusion on each, thereby determining the best interests of the child.” Thompson, supra at 363 (citations omitted); see also Foskett, supra at 9.
When a parent wants to change custody there are hurdles. The purpose of these hurdles is to “to minimize unwarranted and disruptive changes of custody orders,” except under the most compelling circumstances. Heid v AAASulewski (After Remand), 209 Mich App 587, 593-594; 532 NW2d 205 (1995); see also Foskett, supra at 6.


In this case fathers argument is simply that (1) the parties’ son’s wishes are the only
reason for changing the parties’ custody;1 and (2) the law is that a child’s wishes, standing alone,
cannot constitute proper cause, changed circumstances, or the reason for changing custody.

The Court of Appeals indicated that it is up to the local Family law Court to decide how much weight to give a childs stated preferences.

Did you know that Parents who have joint legal custody of a child must agree upon important decisions that affect the child’s welfare. Bowers v VanderMeulen-Bowers, 278 Mich App 287, 295-296; 750 NW2d 597 (2008).

One of those important decisions is the child’s placement in a particular
school. “If [the parents] are unable to agree, the trial court must resolve the dispute
according to [the child’s] best interest.” The parties here could not agree which school
the child would attend, so the trial court was not merely permitted to resolve that dispute, it was
required to resolve that dispute.

The parties’ undisputed inability to agree on the childs high
school “could have a significant effect on the child’s life to the extent that a reevaluation of the
child's custodial situation should be undertaken,” and thus constitutes “proper cause” to revisit a
custody order. See Vodvarka, supra at 854.

Posted here by
Terry Bankert

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