Child Custody in Michigan – What You Need to Know

Many people want to know from the child custody lawyers in Michigan about how the issues of child custody and matters related to visitation or parenting time are resolved in Michigan in divorce cases. Michigan divorce and Michigan child custody lawyers may assist you to know the applicable legal procedures of the Michigan child custody issues. The following is an attempt to introduce you with the basic rules related to child custody laws in Michigan, joint custody in Michigan and laws related to parenting time which you may consider useful.

Agreements on child custody in Michigan

If both the husband and the wife are unanimous about the custody of a child custody or arrangement of parenting time, they may consent to enter a written order with the Court which put into words the stipulations of the arrangement. As a rule, the Court will enter the agreed upon order if the order goes along with the law of the state. In Michigan, physical custody may be granted as shared custody arrangements, joint physical custody, or as sole physical custody.

Where father and mother do not agree: contested custody

If the father and the mother of a child cannot reach to agreement about the custody and parenting time arrangement, the court makes a custody award by using the “best interests of the child factors” of the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970. Typically, the disputed matter is first assigned to the Friend of the Court to conduct an investigation and make recommendation. If one of spouses does not agree to the recommendation drawn up by the Friend of the Court, then the matter is either placed for an evidentiary hearing or a trial.

Factors to be considered in determining child custody by the courts

The court estimates the “best interests of the child” factors, as mentioned in the Michigan statutes at MCL 722.23, if there is no established custody order. If an established custody order is present, then prior to evaluate the “best interests of the child” factors, the Court will have to search out first whether there is a change in the facts. If there is a change in the facts, then the Court will review the “best interests of the child”, as stated the Michigan statutes at MCL 722.23.
According to the Michigan statutes at MCL 722.23, “best interests of the child” means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved 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, if any.
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute. (MCL 722.23)
All of the above mentioned factors are considered by the Court in determining child custody In Michigan. Many people often think that a child (after reaching a certain age) may choose with whom he or she desires to live. But the fact is the child will have be an adult (age 18) for making a living preference. Even though factor (i), mentioned above, indicates for consideration of the reasonable preference of the child in determining custody, it is not the only factor to make a decision; it is only one factor to be evaluated among the other factors.

Joint custody

The court will encourage joint legal custody in Michigan in custody disputes between parents of child. The Court can also consider awarding of joint custody at the request of any of the disputing parents. Even after granting a form of physical custody, both the spouses are normally given joint legal custody of their children, enabling them to get involved equitably in the education, medical and religious choices for their children. The factors considered by the Court in determining joint custody of a child includes “best interests of the child”, as stated in the Michigan statutes at MCL 722.23, whether the parents of the child will be able to cooperate with each other and usually agree regarding vital decisions affecting the child’s welfare etc. Usually, the court awards joint custody if the parents agree on joint custody. When awarding joint custody, the court may add in its award an announcement concerning when the child shall reside with each parent.

Parenting time

The Court shall grant parenting time in consideration of the best interests of the child. For this purpose, it will be presumed that the child has a strong relationship with both of his or her parents. The Court shall grant parenting time to a parent in a frequency, duration, and type logically computed to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parents. For your convenience, each family law and Detroit child custody attorney offers a free phone consultation.

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