When parents with children divorce, a key consideration they wish to discuss with their divorce lawyer in Michigan surrounds custody. And the legal definition of custody in Michigan may not mean what you think.

Many view custody solely as which parent the child lives with. In the past, there was a trend towards “sole custody,” where the child lived with one parent as a primary caregiver, and had visitation time with the other.  The primary caregiver was responsible not only for care, but making decisions regarding schooling, finances, and medical issues.

Recognizing the value that both parents bring to their children’s lives, many states are considering joint custody to be in the best interests of the child, unless there is reason to believe it is not.

In Michigan, the law simply requires that parents be advised of joint custody. The Michigan courts will only consider joint custody if one or both parents request it.

What you Need to Know About Custody in Michigan

If you are divorcing, you will need to create a Parenting Plan. The plan will define your custody arrangement, including physical custody, parenting time, decision-making responsibilities and communication.

  • Physical custody – refers to where your child will live. Parents can share time in almost any combination from 50/50 (joint physical custody), 60/40, 70/30, down to 80/20 (generally considered sole physical custody and visitation with the other parent).
  • Legal custody – refers to who makes decisions (typically larger decisions) to guide their child’s lives. These decisions include health care, religion, education, and finances. A joint arrangement is typical, where both parents remain involved in these decisions.

When reviewing custody arrangements, a divorce lawyer in Michigan can provide advice on how the courts will respond to a request for joint or sole custody.

Michigan courts consider factors like the capacity of the parent(s) to provide a loving and safe home environment, the mental and physical health of each parent, and their ability to provide for medical care, nutritional needs, and material needs.

Creating a Parenting Plan

A divorce lawyer in Michigan can not only help inform your custody decisions, they can help you build a comprehensive Parenting Plan to record your agreements and help communicate your ideals.

With joint legal custody, a Parenting Plan can outline what routine decisions each parent is able to make individually, and when and how they consult on larger, non-routine issues.

The Parenting Plan also outlines the agreement for physical custody / parenting time. A child’s parenting time needs can vary depending on age. For example, newborns generally require more time with their mother, while teenagers may be able to handle more flexibility with their parenting arrangements, or even express a preference to live with one parent or another.

Handling Parenting Disputes

The founding principal in Michigan courts is that all parenting decisions must be in the best interests of the child. Courts weigh parental decisions based on those interests.

For example, if parents disagree on schooling, the court will weigh factors like:

  • How the decision will impact the existing custody arrangement between parents
  • The reasonable preferences of the child (based on age, emotional maturity, and intellectual development)
  • The stability of the family home, the home, school and community record of the child.

What is the Right Custody Arrangement for You?

As we’ve said before, there is no one “right” way to raise a child. Every case, every family, is unique. A qualified divorce lawyer in Michigan can provide you with guidance to help you build a Parenting Plan that will work for you.

Trust Stephanie Krane-Boehmer, an Experienced Divorce Lawyer in Michigan

If you have questions about custody, child support, spousal support, or need to go to court to handle a parental dispute, you can count on Stephanie Krane-Boehmer to represent you and work hard to achieve the best outcome for your case. Get started today. Request a free consultation with Stephanie.

Follow the Law Office of Stephanie Krane-Boehmer on Facebook.