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SPLIT DECISION–FAMILY LAW: Material & Substantial Change of Circumstances to Modify Child Custod

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In In re A.B.R., the majority reversed an order modifying a child custody order, holding there was not a material and substantial change in circumstances. The evidence of materially and substantially changed circumstances was that the children were playing sports for more hours out of the week, there were disagreements between the parents about how the children should spend time on weekends, there was an issue regarding the children’s passports, the father relocated to Puerto Rico, and the parties divorced. The majority held the changes were either not material and substantial or were contemplated at the time the parties signed their mediated settlement agreement.

The dissent would have held the evidence of the parents being married and living together before the mediated settlement agreement and then not living together and getting divorced after the agreement was sufficient evidence to support the trial court’s finding of materially and substantially changed circumstances.

The majority and dissent agreed on the point that the trial court erred by requiring the father to post a bond payable to the mother in the event that he were to file another suit to modify the child custody order.

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