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Answers to Your Burning Questions Regarding Michigan Child Custody Laws: What You Need to Know

October 3, 2023 John Engman & Associates

Answers to Your Burning Questions Regarding Michigan Child Custody Laws: What You Need to Know

Questions about Michigan Custody

The Michigan child custody laws are quite complex. You should be aware of the different types of custody and what they mean for you and your family.

In many states, the parents are assumed to want joint custody of the children. However, in the state of Michigan, both parents must file for joint custody in order to get it. The courts will only consider joint custody if both parents file for it.

If one parent is deceased, then the other will have sole parental rights over the children until they reach 18 years old. If both parents are deceased, then the court will decide what is best for the children based on the best interests in their case.

What is the Significance of Ex Parte Orders in Michigan?

In the realm of Michigan child custody issues, an ex parte order holds significant relevance. At John Engman & Associates, P.C., we understand that in certain situations, immediate action may be necessary to protect the well-being and safety of a child. An ex parte order in the context of child custody matters allows one party to seek a court order without the need for a formal hearing, provided they can convincingly demonstrate to the judge that there is a genuine and imminent threat or harm that could occur if the usual notice procedures were followed. This legal mechanism is essential in swiftly addressing critical child custody concerns, ensuring that the best interests of the child are safeguarded even in emergency situations.

What are the Different Types of Custody in Michigan?

In Michigan, there are three types of custody: legal custody, physical custody, and joint custody.

Legal custody is when a person has the right to make decisions about the child’s education, medical care, and religious upbringing. This type of custody is typically granted by a court order.

Physical custody is when one person has the right to make decisions about where the child will live and spend time with them. This type of custody can be granted by a court order or agreed upon by both parents.

Joint physical or joint legal custody means that both parents have equal decision-making rights over major life decisions for their children including where they will live and who they will live with.

Is child support required when both parents have joint custody?

Child Custody Grand RapidsIn Michigan, child support obligations are determined through the Michigan Child Support Formula, which takes into account the incomes of both parents, the annual number of overnight visits each parent has with the child, and the childcare and healthcare expenses incurred by each party. Typically, the parent with the majority of overnight visits is entitled to receive child support, with the specific amount being calculated based on the data provided to the formula.

Do grandparents have custody and visitation rights?

At John Engman & Associates, P.C., we understand that grandparents may have concerns regarding their rights in such matters. By default, grandparents do not possess automatic custody and visitation rights. However, it’s essential to be aware that there are limited circumstances in which grandparents can petition the court for these rights. These circumstances include situations where the parents grant consent during or after a divorce, when a child is born out of wedlock, paternity is established, and child support is being paid by the father. Grandparents may also seek these rights if legal custody has been granted to someone other than a parent, if they have had custody of the child within the last year, or in the unfortunate event of the grandparent’s child, who is the parent of the grandchild, being deceased. If you have concerns or questions regarding your rights as a grandparent, our legal team is here to provide you with guidance and support.

How is Child Custody Determined in Michigan?

Child custody is a legal right that is granted to parents and guardians. There are several factors that a judge will consider when determining what type of custody is most appropriate for the child.

The courts in Michigan use the best interest of the child standard when deciding what type of custody to grant to each parent. This standard is used because it provides guidelines on how much time each parent should have with their children, how much time each parent should spend with their children, and how often they should see their children.

If a parent has physical custody, then they will be granted all rights and responsibilities for raising the child. If one or both parents have joint physical custody, then they will share responsibilities for raising the child equally.

If it is determined that it is in the best interest of the child to share joint custody of the children to maintain a close relationship with each parent, the courts will grant that. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 722.27a (1) However, joint physical custody doesn’t mean that the parenting time will be split 50/50.

What Is Parenting Time after a divorce?

Parenting time is the time children spend with their parents after divorce. It’s a crucial part of a child’s life and it’s important for both parents to spend quality time with their kids.

A parenting time is a period of time designated for a child to spend with one or both parents. The parent or parents are expected to provide guidance, supervision, and protection during parenting time.

This is a term that is usually used for those parents that are considered non-custodial. Under Michigan law, children have a right to parenting time with the non-custodial parent unless the other parent demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that visitation would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 722.27a (3).)

If both parents cannot agree to a parenting time a judge will determine that for you. In most cases, it is best that the parents come up with a schedule that will meet the needs of their family. We encourage and try to work through these circumstances to come up with a resolution that everyone can live with.

What Does a Judge Consider When Deciding Parenting Time?

child custody questionsWhen it comes to determining parenting time in a child custody case, judges play a critical role in safeguarding the best interests of the child involved. The decision-making process is far from arbitrary, as it hinges on a comprehensive evaluation of various factors that will impact the child’s well-being and development. In this article, we will delve into the key considerations that judges take into account when making determinations about parenting time. From ensuring the child’s safety to evaluating the emotional bonds between parents and children, these factors are carefully weighed to arrive at a decision that prioritizes the child’s welfare above all else.

Some factors that the judge will consider if they are to decide parenting time.

  • The threatened or actual detention of a child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent during parenting time.

  • Whether the non-custodial parent has frequently failed to exercise parenting time.

  • Whether the court believes the non-custodial parent will exercise parenting time according to the order.

  • The inconvenience to, and impact on, the child for traveling for parenting time.

  • Whether there is a chance the non-custodial parent will abuse the other parent during the parenting time exchanges.

  • The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect during parenting time.

  • If the child is less than 6 months old, or if less than 1 year, whether the child is still nursing.

  • Whether the child has special needs.

  • Their own beliefs and personal preferences.

When a judge is required to determine a parenting time schedule, they will look at the factors that will determine what is in the best interest of the child. You can find more information about this here.

  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.

  • The child’s reasonable preference.

  • The child’s home, school, and community records.

  • The parent’s and the child’s mental and physical health.

  • Each parent’s moral fitness.

  • The permanence of the family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

  • How long the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

  • The ability and willingness of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs.

  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the education and raising of the child in religion or creed (if any)

  • Love, affection, and other emotional ties exist between each parent and the child.

  • Any other factor the court deems relevant to a particular child custody dispute. (Mich. Comp. Laws § 722.23.)

In the complex realm of child custody disputes, judges wield the responsibility of making choices that can shape a child’s life. With a vigilant eye on the factors outlined here and a steadfast commitment to upholding the best interests of the child, they strive to create parenting time arrangements that promote stability, security, and nurturing relationships. Understanding the multifaceted nature of these considerations underscores the importance of a thorough and fair judicial process, ultimately aiming to provide children with a stable and loving environment in which to thrive. As legal frameworks evolve and society progresses, the welfare of children remains at the forefront, ensuring that their needs and happiness guide every decision made by the courts.

Wondering if a judge can issue orders for supervised visitation or even no visitation?

The answer is yes, but it’s crucial to note that there must be a valid reason for such a decision. Courts in Michigan can authorize supervised visitation or, in extreme cases, prohibit visitation altogether, but this is typically only done when there are significant concerns about the safety and well-being of the child during scheduled visitation. The preference is always to maintain a healthy parent-child relationship, so supervised parenting time is considered as a last resort, employed when alternative, less restrictive measures for ensuring the child’s welfare are not feasible. At John Engman & Associates, P.C., our legal team is well-equipped to guide you through the complexities of child visitation matters, ensuring that the best interests of the child remain at the forefront of any judicial decision.

Do the Courts Typically Favor the Mother over the Father in Kent County Custody Cases?

One question that often arises in family law discussions is whether courts favor one parent over the other, typically the mother over the father. While the statutes are framed in a gender-neutral manner, with the Child Custody Act prioritizing the child’s best interests and the maintenance of relationships with both parents, it’s a fact that many courts still tend to grant primary custody to mothers. However, it’s essential to understand that fathers need not feel disheartened by this trend. With thorough preparation and the guidance of an experienced attorney, fathers can effectively address and overcome these challenges in court. At John Engman & Associates, P.C., we are dedicated to ensuring that fathers’ rights are upheld and that they have the tools and support needed to secure a fair and just outcome in child custody disputes.

Should I Collect My Own Evidence for My Custody Case?

In the realm of child custody disputes, the role of evidence cannot be understated. When it comes to building a compelling case, it’s essential to be proactive in collecting your own evidence. Remember that the judge serves as a fact-finder, solely relying on the evidence presented in court to make informed decisions. If something is not presented to the judge, it simply won’t be known. However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when gathering evidence to ensure full compliance with the law.

Two potent sources of evidence often employed are maintaining a detailed journal and securing witnesses who can testify about your interactions with your child. The specific type of evidence required may vary depending on the unique circumstances of your case, making it vital to consult with the experienced child custody attorneys at John Engman & Associates, P.C. We’re here to provide you with the guidance and expertise needed to navigate the complexities of child custody proceedings, ensuring that your case is strengthened by the most compelling evidence possible.

Can My Child Decide Where to Live?

The answer to this question is no. Michigan law states that children cannot decide where they live during a divorce. The decision of where the child lives fall on the parents.

Children can be forced to move with a parent who has custody of them, but they are not allowed to decide where they want to live.

What If My Spouse Attempts to Relocate with the Children?

Post-custody order issuance, parental permission or court approval is necessary for a parent seeking to make a residential change of over 100 miles or relocating out of Michigan. When relocating out of state, the moving parent must obtain consent from the other parent or seek court authorization. In cases of disagreement, the relocating parent must demonstrate that the move is in the child’s best interests, improves their quality of life, and ensures compliance with court orders, all while preserving both parents’ relationships with the child. Factors like financial advantage, domestic violence, and other circumstances are considered.

What is the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act?

In Michigan, the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act is a crucial legal measure. It deems it a crime for an adoptive or natural parent to take or retain a child for over 24 hours with the intent to conceal them from the other parent with parenting time rights, adoptive parents, or any responsible party. Parental kidnapping is a felony, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. This federal statute empowers Michigan to enforce custody orders from other states, preventing parental kidnapping.

Will My Child Need to Appear in Court?

Typically, children need not appear in court during child custody proceedings. The court process aims to make decisions without subjecting the child to direct involvement. However, if the child wishes to express their opinion or is required to testify about a specific event, they may be asked to attend a court hearing. Judges often conduct private interviews with children in their chambers, ensuring their well-being and minimizing any potential harm.

Can the Other Parent Change the Child’s Last Name?

A parent cannot change a child’s last name without court approval. To do so, a court order is required, and the petitioning parent must notify the other parent and interested parties, allowing them an opportunity to object during a hearing.

Why Finding an Experienced Family Law Attorney is Important and What to Expect for Custody Issues In Michigan

The conclusion is that you should find an experienced Grand Rapids family law attorney such as John Engman & Associated, P.C. to help you with your case. Our Grand Rapids family attorney will be able to evaluate your situation and determine what is the best course of action for your case.

The most important thing to remember is that our Grand Rapids child custoy attorney will be looking out for your best interests and safety. They will also have experience in handling custody issues in Michigan, which will help them determine what type of custody arrangement would work best for you and your children.

Call today and let John Engman & Associates, P.C. assist you with coming up with a custody agreement that everyone can live with. Divorce isn’t fun and having children just adds to the stress. Try to remain calm and think of what is best for your children.

 Our criminal defense attorneys would be more than happy to assess the details of your case. To request a free consultation, call John Engman & Associates at (616) 454-5222.