Determining Child Custody in Michigan

When a divorce or separation is amicable, parents may determine their own custody and visitation agreements. In these cases, both parents will agree to a plan, including where the child or children will live, who they will spend holidays with, and which parent will be primarily responsible for decision making. This agreement will then be approved by the judge.

If, however, parents cannot reach an agreement, decisions will be made by the family court. In these cases, the court will favor the best interests of the child and will seek to involve both parents in their lives, except in cases where their child’s emotional or physical wellbeing may be put in danger, such as in the face of drug or alcohol abuse, domestic violence, or other unsafe conditions.

While a family court may not have all the details about your specific situation, they will look at a number of factors, including:

  • The child’s preferences, if they are old enough to provide them
  • Both parents’ financial situation and their ability to support the child
  • The child’s special needs regarding their healthcare, education, and other services
  • Both parents’ mental and physical health

Legal vs. Physical Custody

There are two types of custody: Legal, which refers to the parent who makes important decisions regarding a child’s health, welfare, education, and religious upbringing, and physical, or where the child will live. Parents can be awarded joint legal and/or physical custody, primary or sole custody, or a different arrangement, depending on what is in the best interests of the child.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is established by the court to determine the amount of time the noncustodial parent has with their child. Like with custody agreements, parenting time to based on what is in the best interests of the child, in addition to the parents’ schedules.

Courts will look at the following factors when determining parenting time:

  • The current relationships between both parents and the child
  • The parent’s ability to provide essentials, like shelter and food, to the child
  • The parent’s financial status
  • The desire to retain love, guidance, and stability for the child
  • Any history of abuse, violence, or addiction
  • The child’s preferences, if they are old enough to provide them

In any decision, the child’s needs are paramount, and the court will seek to cause as little disruption in their lives as possible. After all, children thrive in familiar environments where both parents are a present and positive influence in their lives. The Wealthy Street Law Firm can help you seek a fair parenting plan that puts your child’s needs first.

Contact our firm by calling (616) 202-3988. We proudly serve families throughout Michigan.


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