Child Custody

Divorce can be one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through in life, especially when minor children are involved. As parents, you are concerned not only about the emotional and financial impact of the divorce on yourselves but also your children. You want to make the right decisions for their future.

Call (248) 451-2200 today or contact us online for legal advice in family law matters.

Michigan Child Custody Law

There are two types of custody: Legal custody, which gives the parent the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s health, welfare and education. There is also Physical custody, which determines where the child will be living primarily and what parenting time rights the parents will have.

A parent can receive sole legal and physical custody of a child. That usually only happens when one parent is not involved with their child in any meaningful manner. In most cases, the parties or court will arrive at some form of joint legal custody. Physical custody is often more complicated and difficult to resolve because a parent’s access to their child is affected as well as their financial obligations via child support. These issues require negotiation to resolve in the best possible way.

The court will decide what is in the “best interests of the child,” and it will consider the following factors in order to make that determination:

  • Love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties and child
  • Capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed
  • Capacity and disposition of the parties to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • Permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  • Moral fitness of the parties
  • Mental and physical health of the parties
  • Home, school, and community record of the child
  • Child’s reasonable preference, if the child is of sufficient age to express preference
  • Willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether directed against or witnessed by the child; and
  • Any other factor relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

The court does not have to give equal weight to each factor. In some circumstances one factor will weigh so heavily in a parents favor that it will tilt the scales toward that parent. Every factor must ultimately be evaluated and determined by the judge or Friend of the Court when a custody dispute cannot be resolved through negotiation.

If the parent does not receive primary physical custody of a child, the court will determine the amount of parenting time a parent shall receive. A parenting time arrangement can be simple or complex involving either a set schedule or variable time. In some cases even casual contacts via phone or internet must be scheduled or regulated if the parties cannot cooperate. It is very important to get an appropriate parenting time schedule in place during the initial proceedings.

A child custody order entered in the state of Michigan has the same force and effect in any other state if a parent moves. However, parents generally must seek permission from the court before relocating to the different state with the child. This is done through a Change of Domicile motion.

Once the court enters the child custody order, it can only be modified upon a showing that there has been a significant change in circumstances, such as deterioration in the child’s custodial environment. Whether something constitutes a change in circumstance is not always easy to determine. Many judges have different standards for how significant a change needs to be for them to revisit custody or parenting time issues.

We know that there is nothing more important in our clients’ lives than their children, and we will work hard to make sure that decisions are made that are in the best interest of you and your child.

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If you have a child custody issue and would like to discuss your case in more detail, contact our child custody lawyers online today for an initial consultation. We have helped clients in Oakland County, Troy, Novi, Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, Rochester Hills, Farmington Hills, West Bloomfield and Birmingham.

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