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Navigating Divorce With Kids

For parents, custody and visitation are some of the most crucial and challenging issues in any divorce or legal separation. Who should have physical custody of the kids? How will the children be cared for, and will each parent get equal time? Is it more likely that one parent will make all of the main decisions about things like health care and education, or will both parents have a say? When it comes to visitation, what are the rights of the father and the mother? 

Understandably, this can be a difficult and emotional process, and it is one in which legal counsel can be invaluable to both parties.

Michigan’s Child Custody Laws


Michigan is a no-fault divorce state, which means that either spouse can file for divorce without having to prove that the other spouse did anything wrong. This also applies to child custody cases. If one parent wants to move out of state with the children, the other parent cannot stop them simply by saying that the first parent is a bad parent. The only way to prevent the move is by proving that it would be harmful to the children.

Michigan has two types of child custody — legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to who makes decisions about the child’s welfare, such as where they will go to school or what religion they will practice. Physical custody refers to where the child lives most of the time. Parents can share legal and physical custody, or one parent can have sole legal or physical custody.

By default, both parents have joint custody (both legal and physical), but either parent can petition the court, usually with the help of an attorney, to change this arrangement.

Who is Eligible to Make a Custody Request?


If there is no court ruling or agreement to the contrary, neither parent has a greater right to custody than the other, and children can reside with either parent. However, Family Courts in Michigan are open to both parents, to file for custody of a child.

Those who are not parents, such as grandparents or someone with a significant connection (i.e, a guardian) to the kid, may also seek custody of the child from the court. For this, they must demonstrate that there are exceptional circumstances justifying their desire for custody, as well as that it would be in the child’s best interest for that family member or friend to have custody over a parent. Although it is rare for a third party to get custody of a kid over a parent, it is conceivable for a third party to be declared to be the primary caregiver. These parties do not automatically have rights to custody.

How Do Child Custody Cases Work in Michigan?


In order to obtain Michigan child custody, you must first check to see if the state of Michigan has jurisdiction. Before a custody case starts, the court must first ensure that it has jurisdiction to do so. 

Any child in Michigan who has resided here for the past six months (or who is younger than six months old and has lived here their entire life) or who was the subject of a previous custody order entered in that state, or who is in Michigan due to an emergency that occurred in their home state, is subject to the jurisdiction of the state’s courts.

To get custody of your child in Michigan, you must file a Family Court petition, stating why you should be granted possession in the petition.

Summons Custody documents must be served to the other parent unless the court orders otherwise (or if filed by a nonparent, to the custodial parent or parents). Someone other than the petitioner is required to deliver these documents personally by hand.

What are the Next Steps After Summons Have Been Filed?


It is common for parents to try to work out custody and visitation specifics with each other during court procedures. The agreement can be filed to the court and an order made without the necessity for a formal hearing if they can come to an agreement voluntarily.

An evidentiary hearing will be scheduled if there is no agreement on child custody. Temporary orders for custody and visitation can be issued by the court during the procedure. Even if they were unable to do so originally, the parties may still be able to come to an agreement on child custody and visitation before the trial.

What Factors Does the Court Consider When Making a Child Custody Decision?


Before making a decision about who will have custody of your child, a judge will look at your (or another petitioning caregiver’s) ability to provide for the child’s needs, taking into account a variety of circumstances that may impact your ability to do so.

  • Health, age, and finances;
  • Lifestyle;
  • Stability;
  • Connection to the child’s emotions;
  • Domestic violence or drug misuse found in the home or workplace;
  • The surroundings of one’s home;
  • The child’s choice (more likely to be considered if the child is older).

This is not an all-inclusive list. For the sake of the child, the court may consider any and all reasons. Consult a Michigan child custody lawyer to learn how your  circumstances may affect your Michigan child custody case.

Michigan Visitation Regulations


Michigan Visitation Regulations state that a parent who is not granted custody of a child has the right to reasonable visitation with the child unless the court finds that visitation would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. The regulations also state that a parent who is granted custody of a child must allow reasonable visitation by the other parent, absent a finding that visitation would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.

Michigan Visitation Regulations are intended to protect the best interests of children, and the regulations allow for parents to come up with their own visitation schedule, but if they are unable to agree, a judge will decide what is in the child’s best interest. Factors that are considered include the child’s age, relationship with each parent, and distance between the parents’ homes.

Non-parents such as a child’s, half-siblings, grandparents. etc., can apply to the court for visiting rights.

If a parent has a child in foster care, they are entitled to visitation privileges as long as they haven’t had their parental rights terminated by the courts.

Artisan Legal Services, PLLC


Artisan Legal Services, PLLC can assist you in establishing a custody and visitation arrangement that is best for your family while safeguarding your rights. If you have questions about your legal choices, then you may call us at (313) 451-6855. You may also contact us via our website. We will assist you in evaluating any issues you have with a view to resolving them.

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