Thursday, August 26, 2010

Re-Married…. With Children

by Wendy Alton

You’ve been divorced for a while now, and all of a sudden your ex remarries to someone you feel is a bad influence on the children. Or, you’ve just remarried yourself and can provide a more stable household. That should be enough to get you back into court to have the judge re-evaluate custody and parenting time, right?


In Michigan, before the Court can consider changes in parenting time or custody, the person requesting the change must demonstrate “proper cause” or a “change in circumstances.” While instinctively one may think that a remarriage of a former spouse is a change in circumstances, the Michigan Court of Appeals decided differently in Allen v Belonga, unpublished opinion per curiam of the Court of Appeals, issued July 20, 2010 (Docket No. 295753).

Without reviewing the facts of that case in particular, what is important to note is that the Michigan Court of Appeals indicated that a parent’s remarriage is generally a “normal life change” and does not rise to the level of “change in circumstances” required under Michigan law. The Michigan Court of Appeals indicated that the evidence must show that a “material change” has occurred and that this “material change” has or will have an effect on the child.

Changes in custody and parenting time are difficult to request and the courts enforce the evidentiary standards for each particular change requested. It is extremely important, throughout your divorce, to understand that your agreement as to custody and parenting time will be binding and cannot be changed by the court at just your request. It is important to have good legal counsel through this process so you understand the long-term effects of your decisions and agreements.

If you are interested in learning more about divorce or family law, please call Wendy Alton at 248-380-9976 or email her at

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