Like most Michigan parents, you love your kids but would likely agree that parenthood is one of the most challenging and exasperating experiences of a lifetime. If a recent divorce intensified your challenges, it may take some time to get life back on track and to find your "new normal." The good news is that children are generally quite resilient and adaptable, especially if they know they have the loving support of both their parents.
There is no guarantee, however, that your post-divorce waters will always be smooth sailing. Even though you may have settled your divorce and were satisfied with the terms of the court order for your co-parenting plan, any number of issues may arise down the line that would make your existing agreement no longer feasible. In such cases, it may be possible to request modification of the court order.
Valid versus non-valid reasons
The bottom line is that you and your co-parent are legally obligated to adhere to the terms of an existing court order unless and until the judge overseeing your case allows you to change it. However, getting mad at your ex and wanting to take revenge is not likely to be a reason for modification that the court will approve. The following list includes issues that most courts consider legitimate reasons to modify an order:
- Michigan courts and all others consider the children's best interests a high priority in all matters of custody, visitation and child support. Therefore, if you believe your children are in danger, it is definitely a valid reason to seek the court's approval for an immediate modification of an existing court order.
- Logistics may be a factor if you or your ex relocates. An issue as seemingly minor as time and location of drop-off for custody transfer can become a major issue if you or your co-parent moves a farther distance away.
- If your co-parent refuses to obey the terms of the court order already in place, you can bring the problem to the immediate attention of the court and the judge can take action to rectify the situation.
- There would be an obvious reason to modify a court order if a parent dies or becomes incapacitated and unable to care for the children.
If you're unsure whether you have legitimate grounds to seek modification of your co-parenting agreement, it is always best to speak with someone well versed in family law issues rather than go against the existing order. Your problems may only get worse if the court finds you in contempt. It is quite common for parents to rely on experienced legal representation rather than try to resolve their custody modification issues on their own.