Custody Hearing Allowed for Weekend Parent | Speaker Law
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Custody Hearing Allowed for Weekend Parent

Posted on Tuesday, May 8, 2018

In Powery v Wells, the COA affirmed a trial court’s order changing custody of a minor child based on the mother’s move from Ludington to Traverse City. The trial court ordered the change even though the move was less than 100 miles and the child had an established custodial environment with both parents. The COA reasoned that the father met his burden of illustrating a change in circumstance by showing that the move to Traverse City would disrupt the current parenting time arrangement. It further held that the modification of parenting time triggered by the mother’s move amounted to a change in the established custodial environment because it would turn one parent into a “weekend parent.” The COA concluded that the move was not in the child’s best interest based on the disruption in parenting time. Although the trial court failed to include a statement in its opinion that modifying the custody order to grant defendant weekly physical custody during the school year was in the child’s best interest, the Court inferred that conclusion from the trial court’s written opinion. The opinion resulted in the father obtaining custody during the school year if the mother chooses to stay in Traverse City. Interestingly, this decision ends in the same result that the trial court ostensibly wanted to avoid--turning the mother into the weekend parent. This begs the question: what is the relevance of the 100 mile rule if a change in circumstance can be found with any move that slightly alters the status quo?

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