Does Changing Custodian of Child’s Passport Change the Custodial Environment?

brown passport
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Generally whenever a parent requests a change to a Michigan custody agreement, which changes the established custodial environment, that parent must show proper cause or change of circumstances. The moving party must show clear and convincing evidence of the need to make that change. The parent must also show that it is in the best interests of the child. What happens if the only requested change is that the parent be the custodian of the child’s passport?

In a recent Michigan Court of Appeals case, Kostreva v Kostreva, the Court answered this question. The Court determined that the lower court did not err when it failed to consider the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, MCL 722.1521 et seq., or the best interests factors from the Child Custody Act of 1970, MCL 722.21 et seq., or to determine proper cause or a change of circumstances because the modification did not affect custody or parenting time. The moving party only needed to show the change was in the child’s best interests based on the preponderance of evidence (which is more likely than not or greater than 50% chance to be true).

Due to the particular facts of the case, the Court granted the Mother’s motion to change the custodian of the child’s passport thus facilitating visits to her home country of Poland. The facts of the case indicate that the father of the child, who was originally custodian of the passport, denied the mother’s request for use of the passport to travel to maternal grandmother’s funeral in Poland. The cruelty of the father who refused to permit use of the passport may have played a factor in the Court’s decision.

If you are concerned about whether your child’s safety is at issue in traveling with the child’s other parent, or have some other kind of child custody concern, contact Attorney Diana Mohyi for a consultation.

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