In Michigan, child custody laws advocate and uphold the best interests of the child. Child custody and visitation are very emotional issues for parents. The primary concerns with child custody judgments are to maintain the stability of the child's environment and avoid unjustifiable and disruptive custody changes.
For over 14 years, I have been representing the interests of parents and their children throughout Oakland, Macomb, Genesee, Livingston, Lapeer and Wayne counties. Trust me to be a strong advocate on behalf of you and your children. Please call to arrange an initial consultation about Michigan child custody laws in your situation.
Who Gets Custody of the Children?
The court will ultimately consider: Is it in the best interests of the child to award custody to the mother or to the father, or both?
If the parents can agree on who gets custody, the judge will usually accept their decision without second-guessing it. When both parents want custody of the children, the issues of custody can become the fiercest battle during the divorce.
In accordance with Michigan child custody laws, a stable home environment is at the top of the court's list in deciding what is in the child's best interests. A divorce is a major disruption in the child's life, and the judge will do everything possible to minimize that disruption.
- Will the parent be home enough to take care of the child?
- If the parent works long hours or at night, who will be home looking after the child?
- Will a young child be left alone for much of the day?
- Does a parent display parental fitness?
Michigan Child Custody Laws Involve Legal Custody and Physical Custody
There are two forms of child custody in Michigan:Legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody deals with decision-making powers for the children. If you have joint legal custody, both parents are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities for the children. Both parents have equal say in their child's life events – such as which school the child goes to, religion and upbringing, and healthcare matters.
When one parent has sole legal custody, that parent has primary control over decisions regarding where the child goes to school, their health care arrangements and general upbringing and welfare.
Physical custody is about who will have physical presence with the child on a daily basis. Physical custody determines which parent will be custodian of the child.
An award of joint physical custody means each parent has "significant periods" of physical custody. This does not mean the child's time must be evenly divided between each parent because one parent usually will be the "primary caretaker" (custodial parent).
When a parent is granted sole or primary physical custody, the child resides with and is under the physical supervision of only that parent.
Parents may have joint legal custody without having joint physical custody. In that case, one parent has sole physical custody. The child lives with and is under the physical supervision of only that parent, while both parents share decision-making responsibilities.
If a couple cannot agree on physical custody, the case ends up in court. Michigan child custody laws incorporate several different factors regarding the “best interest of the child” upon which the judge must base his or her decision. These factors deal with:
- Which parent has been primary caregiver
- Which parent does the child look to for love and affection, guidance and discipline
- Which parent is likely to carry on with the child's education and religion
- Which parent has the ability to foster a supportive relationship with the other parent
The answers to these and other questions tell the judge which parent has the time and interest to care for the child properly.
Provisions concerning children are generally subject to child custody modification. Michigan child custody laws, being protective of the child's interests, require clear and convincing proof to affect a change. As an Oakland County child custody lawyer, I work diligently to obtain the child custody agreement you want at the time of the original divorce settlement or judgment.
Michigan Child Custody Laws Work Through Mediation
Through mediation, you play a strong part in deciding the outcome rather than handing it off for the judge to decide. I strongly believe that working through your issues and reaching a mutual agreement is the best possible route. You and your spouse know your child better than any lawyer or judge ever will. Michigan child custody laws are quite flexible and supportive when it comes to amicably creating solutions for most any custody situation.
Still, there will be cases where both spouses simply cannot agree to work together to resolve these issues. If the need for litigation arises, I will fight in court confidently and aggressively on your behalf.
To ensure all aspects of child custody are handled with meticulous care, and to make sure the necessary arguments are raised, the advice of an experienced child custody lawyer is immeasurable. Please be in touch with me to discuss your questions on Michigan child custody laws and the proper handling of your case. We service clients in all of Oakland County Michigan including Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Birmingham and Troy.