In Hoeve v Hoeve, an unpublished opinion issued by the Court of Appeals on
October 15th, a panel of Michigan's Court of Appeals ruled that a child's impending enrollment in school constituted proper cause to revisit the trial court's earlier custody order because the child needs to be enrolled in one school district, the parents live 45 minutes apart, and the child's beginning school attendance is an event that “could have a significant effect on the child’s life.”
In this case, the parents shared joint legal and joint physical custody. The parenting schedule provided that the child alternate weeks with his parents. Each parent resided in a different school district and had enrolled the child in different preschool programs. About nine months prior to the time the child would begin kindergarten, his father filed a motion for modification to provide the father with sole physical custody alleging that the mother provided inadequate care. He also raised the issue that the child the parents resided 45 minutes apart and in different school districts.
The mother responded, denying the father's allegations of substandard care, but acknowledging that the child would need to be enrolled in one school system. She asked for primary physical custody. After a hearing, the trial court granted the father's motion and awarded him primary physical custody.
The COA has previously decided that when parents are unable to agree upon which school a child should attend, the trial court must hold a best interests hearing and make a decision on that issue. Lombardo v Lombardo, 202 Mich App 151 (1993). On appeal in Hoeve v Hoeve, defendant mother challenged the trial court's jurisdiction, stating that there was no proper cause or change in circumstances that had arisen since the entry of the most recent custody order that would grant the trial court jurisdiction to revisit its previous order, citing Vodvarka v Grasmeyer, 259 Mich App 499 (2003).
The Hoeve panel disagreed, and the COA ruled that the child's impending enrollment in school constituted an event that “could have a significant effect on the child’s life.” Vodvarka, 259 Mich App 511.
Need help with a child custody issue?