How to change custody in Michigan

A child custody decision is always modifiable. After all, circumstances change and when they do, it may warrant a change. However, it is not easy to change custody in Michigan. In fact, there are legal barriers which must be met to avoid disruptions.


The legal authority to modify custody in Michigan can be found in Michigan Compiled Laws section 722.27(c) which grants court’s the authority to modify or amend its prior order for “proper cause” shown or because of “change of circumstances“. (Also called the “Vodvarka Threshold”)

Both ‘proper cause’ and ‘change of circumstances’ were defined in the case of as defined in the cause of  Vodvarka vs. Grasmeyer which defined both terms.

To establish proper cause, the party requesting the change must prove the existence of “an appropriate ground . . . of such magnitude to have a significant effect on the child’s well-being.”

To establish a change of circumstances, the party requesting the change must prove since the entry of the last custody order, the conditions surrounding custody of the child, which have or could have a significant effect on the child’s well-being, have materially changed.”

It is important to understand that you must first meet the threshold requirement of proper cause or a change of circumstance since the entry of the last custody order before a court can change custody. The Vodvarka threshold prevents a party from simply filing a new motion after a unfavorable decision.

Once the threshold his met, you the court will consider a motion in the same manner as it would consider an original custody action.

If you are frustrated and thinking about modifying custody, let it be our privilege to help you.

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Ph. 248-399-3300 : : After hours emergency?+1 (248) 633-8583I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

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