Few divorce topics stir up as much pain, resentment, and worry as child custody. In some situations, child custody is straightforward and easy to work out—both parents recognize each other’s right to parent and agree upon a mutually beneficial schedule. In others, both parents fight for every bit of time they can get. Some situations involve one party who always seems to have something come up when it’s their turn to parent.
No matter what situation you find yourself in, we know how much is at stake when you make the decision to hire a Michigan child custody attorney. Whether you are fighting for custody against someone who is an unfit parent, striving to keep your child’s routine the same, or attempting to alter an unfair custody decision, we are on your side. Reach out to us now for personalized advice on your custody situation.
Who Will Get Custody of Your Child?
One of the first questions clients ask when they call us, is “Who will get custody?” Divorce can make people do unreasonable things, and perhaps you’ve been threatened by a co-parent who believes they can revoke custody when you make a decision they don’t like. Maybe you are worried that a change in work schedule will force you to give up your parenting time.
Rest assured: Michigan courts understand the importance of both parents having meaningful time with their child. The odds of you not getting at least partial custody are extremely low. In most divorce and custody cases, both parents retain joint custody.
Factors Considered in Child Custody Disputes
When custody issues cannot be worked out between parents, they must go to the court. When determining custody and parenting time, judges consider a number of factors. These factors include:
- Emotional ties between the child and each parent
- Each party’s ability to provide a child with love, guidance, affection, and education
- Ability to provide child with food, shelter, medical care, and other basic needs
- A child’s current living environment and how each custody arrangement would impact the continuity of that arrangement
- The permanence of the proposed or existing home
- Each party’s moral beliefs and fitness
- A child’s school, home, and community ties
- The child’s preferences (depending on the child’s age)
- Each party’s willingness and ability to support a healthy and ongoing relationship between the child and other parent
- Domestic violence
- Other factors deemed relevant by the judge
Differences Between Physical and Legal Custody
The state of Michigan awards both physical and legal custody. Physical custody is where the child actually lives. If one party receives primary physical custody, the child lives with one parent most of the time and spends time with the other parent on a set schedule. However, it is often preferable that parents share joint custody. This allows the child to spend roughly equal amounts of time with each parent.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions on behalf of their child. For example, if you have full legal custody, you can decide where your child goes to school, what type of medical care your child receives, and which activities they participate in. One parent may be given legal custody if the other parent has shown an inability to make decisions in the child’s best interest. In many cases, the court awards joint legal custody. This requires the parents to work together to make decisions in the child’s best interests.
Changes in Custody
Circumstances change, and the custody agreement that worked for you at the time of your divorce may no longer be relevant. When this happens, you can file a motion to change custody. If the other parent agrees to the change, the judge simply has to sign the new order.
If your child’s other parent disagrees with the proposed changes, the issue goes to the judge. They determine whether or not there is proper cause to change the current custody order. If a parent is failing to provide care, abusing drugs or alcohol, engaging in abuse or neglect, or is no longer present, the custody order may be altered due to a change in circumstances.
From there, the judge decides whether a change in custody is in the child’s best interests. Work closely with your Michigan child custody attorney to provide evidence that supports your side.
Frequently Asked Questions
Our child custody clients have lots of questions. Get answers to some common questions here.
Will I have to pay child support if we have joint custody?
Child support is not solely based on the division of parenting time. Even if parenting time is equal, child support may still be ordered if there are differences in income levels.
Can I move out of state with my child?
Relocation with a child is an extremely complex topic that can have a serious impact on your co-parenting relationship. It’s important to handle it properly. Since so many factors may change your options, discuss this topic with your Michigan child custody attorney.
What if the other parent is ignoring my child’s needs?
Gather any evidence of neglect you have and reach out to your Michigan family law attorney immediately. Neglect is a reason to have custody orders changed, but judges are unlikely to order a custody change over hearsay. You need to work with your attorney to prove your case and fight for custody.
Turn to Our Team of Southfield, Michigan Child Custody Attorneys
Your children are the most important part of your life, so child custody is not an issue to handle on your own. Failing to prepare for child custody disputes could lead to you losing time with your children or decision-making rights. The team at The Lobb Law Firm is here to help. We treat every client how we would want our own family members to be treated, and we will fight vigorously to protect your parenting rights. Call us now to schedule your free consultation.