Modifying and Enforcing Michigan Custody Orders

Custody orders mandate how parents must share responsibilities like legal custody, parenting time and child support.

Temporary orders last no more than the duration of your case, whereas final orders stay in effect until your child turns 18 or graduates from high school (whichever is later).

Both types of orders can be modified while they're active, following the process below.

If a parent violates either type of order, your county Friend of the Court (FOC) office can take a number of enforcement actions, also detailed below.

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If you have a parenting plan, which is highly recommended, it should include provisions for how to decide on changes to the plan or your custody schedules. The court must approve significant changes, including when a parent wants to move more than 100 miles away.

When parents agree on significant changes, they work with the FOC to have the modifications approved. If parents need help agreeing, the FOC can help through conciliation and mediation.

When parents can't agree, either one may file a motion to change custody orders, which prompts a hearing. Courts only grant these motions if a parent presents evidence that circumstances have changed significantly or that the original orders no longer meet the children's best interests.


If a parent violates orders, the other parent has 56 days to file a complaint with their FOC office. The complaint must include evidence of the violation.

Within 14 days of the filing, an FOC enforcement officer or your case manager reviews the complaint.

If they determine that the violation did not occur, if the complaint was filed late, or if the parenting time schedule or parenting plan is not specific enough to enforce, the FOC won't take action.

When the FOC determines that an enforceable violation did occur, it may order makeup parenting time, a joint meeting, mediation, a civil contempt hearing — or some combination of these (more below).

The process to enforce a child support order is slightly different. The FOC automatically initiates enforcement proceedings when unpaid support equals or exceeds one months court-ordered payment amount. Typically, the FOC schedules a civil contempt hearing to address the issue.

Make-up parenting time

When one parent denies the other ordered time with the children, the FOC typically requires makeup parenting time.

The makeup time must take place within a year and match the denied period. For example, if a parent was denied a weekend, they get a makeup weekend.

The FOC notifies parents when makeup time has been ordered. Either parent can file an objection within 7 days of notification. Then, the FOC will choose another enforcement option, or your court may require a civil contempt hearing.

Joint meeting

Parents can have joint meetings with their FOC case manager to resolve any issue related to their parenting schedule or parenting plan — scheduling, disciplining the children, communicating with each other, etc.

First, the case manager suggests solutions. Then, if parents can't resolve the issues, the manager may refer them to mediation or make a recommendation to the court for modified orders.

If the FOC recommends modified orders, parents have 21 days to file an objection, which prompts a hearing. Should neither parent file an objection, the court approves the FOC recommendation.


More formal than a joint meeting, mediation is used as an enforcement tool when disputes regularly prevent parents from following orders.

If the parents successfully agree on a modified parenting schedule or parenting plan with the mediator's help, they sign and submit it for the court's approval, which may require a hearing.

If mediation is unsuccessful, the FOC chooses another enforcement option, or either parent can file a motion to modify custody orders (more on modifying above).

Civil contempt (show cause) hearing

When a parent commits a serious violation or multiple violations, the FOC may schedule a hearing with a judge or domestic relations referee.

In the civil contempt hearing, sometimes called a show cause hearing, the parent who allegedly violated orders can present evidence that the violation did not occur or that it was done in the best interests of the children. The parent who filed the complaint can also present evidence and request remedies.

The judge or referee may issue new orders to address the situation or order civil contempt consequences, such as fines up to $100, driver's license and passport suspension or even jail time.

Following court orders

It's essential that you follow your court orders. If you don't, you can be charged with contempt of court, fined and more.

But understanding your order for parenting time can be difficult. Use Custody X Change to turn it into a shareable parenting calendar with push notifications so you're sure to stick to it correctly.

With a variety of custody tools for Michigan parents, the Custody X Change online app helps you follow court orders and keep your children's interests front and center.

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