When parents in Michigan get a divorce, they must reach an agreement about child custody or go to court, where a judge will make a decision. One parent may be awarded physical custody, or the parents may have joint physical custody.
If one parent has sole physical custody, this does not mean the other parent will not see the child. The other parent usually has visitation rights, and these can be generous. However, some noncustodial parents may make the mistake of simply including language in the child custody agreement saying that visitation would be “liberal.” This is subject to different interpretations, and the noncustodial parent may end up with less visitation time than desired. A better approach would be to spell out exactly what the visitation schedule will be in the custody agreement. This should also include plans for holidays and vacations.
Another option is joint physical custody. This is becoming more common. Shared custody does not necessarily mean that the child will be with each parent exactly 50% of the time. The split might be closer to 60/40 in some cases. There might not be any child support unless the parents’ income is significantly different. While the parents may no longer get along as a couple, they will need to try to put their differences aside to co-parent successfully.
There are a few circumstances in which a parent may want to prevent the other parent having access to the child or at least ensure that the parent only has supervised visitation. If the child is in danger because one parent is abusive or has substance abuse issues, the other parent should collect evidence to support this claim. In some cases, the parent might be permitted access to the child after fulfilling certain conditions, such as attending parenting classes or completing a substance abuse program.