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Committee Changes: HB 4691(H2) Compared to the Bill as Introduced

On June 20, 2017, the House Judiciary Committee passed an amended version of HB 4691 (view HERE).

The Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence (MCEDSV) continues to have serious concerns about this bill and strongly opposes it.  We believe that despite the changes, HB 4691(H2) still:

  • Is dangerous for victims of domestic violence and their children;
  • Contains vague and confusing language; and
  • Will dramatically increase litigation and court costs.


  • Still assumes a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to custody decisions by establishing in law a presumption for joint legal and joint physical custody (among a number of new presumptions);
  • Replaces the current provisions of the Child Custody At with a confusing array of presumptions and standards;
  • Redefines the “best interest of the child” standard, and despite restoring “domestic violence” as a factor, fails to apply that factor in a way that would protect victims and their children;
  • Allows an otherwise absent parent to create a fictionalized “established custodial environment” by the filing of a single form;
  • Requires the court to provide biological parents “with an opportunity for unification with the child,” and order that an effort for unification of the child with the parent be made, if a parent is “unaware of…(his) parentage or was unable to make routine contact with the child due to good cause…”, unless it is determined not to be in the child’s best interest (as revised by this bill).


Changes made by the House Judiciary Committee, before passing the bill, include the following:

  • Returning the evidentiary standard throughout most – not all – of the bill to “preponderance of evidence.” The bill as introduced had required “clear and convincing” evidence to rebut any of the bill’s three presumptions.
  • A revised but still vague definition of “materially compromised” (a new concept in HB 4691):

Original bill: “diminished outcomes that exceed minor deviations and that would have a significant and profound impact on the well-being of the child.”

H-2 version: “1 or more appropriate grounds that have or could have a significant impact on the child’s life such that an evaluation of the child’s custodial situation should be undertaken.”

  • Adding factors “j” and “k” from current law to HB 4691’s new “best interests of the child” standard: “domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child. A court may not consider negatively any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child’s other parent.” However, the bill does not always apply the “best interests of the child” standard to the various presumptions in the bill.
  • As introduced, HB 4691 prohibited a parent from changing the legal residence of a child to a location that is more than 40 miles from the child’s legal residence or school.” Current law prohibits a parent from moving a child’s legal residence “more than 100 miles” and applies only to the child’s residence. The H-2 version passed by the committee changes the distance to 80 miles and deletes “or school.”
  • Continues to allow a parent on deployment to designate third party to exercise his/her parenting time “and to ensure and maintain the established custodial environment,” but adds language requiring that the third party must reside in that parent’s home, and allows the court to disallow if such an arrangement would not be in the “best interests of the child,” (as revised by the bill).