When it comes to a custody battle, it is important to recognize that your ex and you will still have a relationship to some extent through your child, and parenting time will have to be negotiated. Because Michigan is a 50/50 child custody state, a judge will start from the viewpoint that custody will be equally divided unless there are other factors involved, like domestic violence or neglect.
Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important medical, educational and/or religion decisions for the child. Physical custody refers to the responsibilities a parent takes for the living arrangements of the child.
Sole or joint custody?
Sole custody means one parent having full custody of the child; joint custody is shared custody between both parents. Joint legal custody allows decisions about the child’s educational, religious and medical concerns to be decided by both. Depending on the circumstances, parents can also have joint physical custody, in which the living arrangements for the child will be shared by both parents.
Who will ultimately get custody?
The overall well-being of the child must always be the focus of decisions regarding custody. At the outset, the judge will determine if the child currently has an established custodial environment with one or both parents. Is she in a stable home environment that provides basic food, clothing and access to medical care? Is she receiving love and affection from just one parent, or is there an equal sharing of responsibilities?
These and many other factors, such as a possible history of domestic violence or sexual abuse and how willing each side is to encourage the child’s bond with the other parent, will factor into what kind of custody arrangement the judge will ultimately determine.
Who gets parenting time?
After the judge’s ruling, many factors will go into deciding parenting time, with the focus on what is in the best interest of the child. His ruling will determine who has visitation rights, how long the visits will be and if they will be supervised. Among the considerations are the special needs of the child, if there is neglect or abuse (or abuse of the other parent) during visitation, if there is too much distance between the homes, and whether or not the parent uses parenting time wisely.
To prepare, and if necessary, fight for your custody rights, it is important to get the strongest advice possible about custody laws in Michigan.