COA Opinion: Failure to submit background check a valid reason for modifying child custody agreement
In Mitchell v. Mitchell, an ex-wife’s refusal to provide her ex-husband with a background check on her current boyfriend ended with the Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that a modification to the divorced couple’s child custody agreement was appropriate. The trial court had ordered the ex-wife’s boyfriend to provide a background check to ensure the safety of the children, who were living with their mother at the time. When the boyfriend refused to provide the information, the court eventually granted the ex-husband custody of the children during the school year. The ex-wife appealed the decision, arguing that the trial court failed to establish enough change in circumstances to warrant the modification, did not have sufficient evidence to support its decision, and should not have considered the boyfriend’s background check a relevant issue. Additionally, the ex-wife argued that the trial judge should be disqualified from future proceedings because he was indignant towards her in his rulings. The Court of Appeals disagreed with the ex-wife and ruled that the trial court was well-founded in its decision. The Court reasoned that the trial court was very thorough in its findings and had the evidence necessary to support its decision to modify the custody agreement. The Court agreed that the modification was in the best interest of the children given the ex-wife’s “vengeful, and vindictive” behavior, her bribes and threats towards the children, and her boyfriend’s encouragement of the situation. In short, the Court found that the ex-wife’s claims were generally unsupported and that the trial court had issued an appropriate decision.