Understanding Michigan Child Custody Arrangement in Macomb County
One of the most difficult parts of divorce for a couple is knowing how dramatically their choices will affect their kids. Michigan courts carefully consider a child custody arrangement, so the arrangements are fair to the parents but, most importantly, in the best interests of the children.
Types of Child Custody
There are shades of gray where child custody is concerned and many ways that time with a child can be determined, but there are ultimately two ways courts categorize child custody – legal and physical.
Legal child custody:
Legal custody is nearly always awarded jointly by the court, allowing both parties to be involved in making major decisions for a child when it comes to matters of health care, education, and religion.
Physical child custody:
Physical child custody is where a child resides most of the time and is usually decided as sole physical custody or joint physical custody. In sole physical custody, one parent (the custodial parent) has the child all the time and the other parent (the non-custodial parent) has reasonable parenting time. In joint physical custody, custody is shared and the parents carefully split their time with the child.
Understanding Joint Custody
There was a time when traditional households had one parent staying home all the time. If divorce came to pass, it usually resulted in mom having the kids most of the time and dad having the kids every other weekend. That was then. This is now.
In modern, dual-income households where both parties work, joint physical custody and parenting time can be more complex but also more equitable.
- Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean one week of custody for one party and one week for the other party. Arrangements can be varied to meet the needs and schedules of the former couple.
- Creative arrangements for joint custody and parenting time are the norm.
- In standard parenting time, the non-custodial parent gets custody every other weekend, including Friday and Saturday overnights.
- Sometimes parents will also have a Sunday overnight or Thursday overnight or both on their weekends, taking the children to school or daycare on the appropriate days.
- Joint custody works best when the former spouses live close to each other and a schedule is easily managed so the child’s school and activities schedules are not unnecessarily interrupted.
- Ultimately, joint custody can be divvied up any way a couple wants, as long as they and the court agree on the arrangements. Many couples aim for an even number of overnights every month. A truly shared parenting time arrangement ultimately works out to be around 182 overnights annually for both parents.
The Difference Between Child Custody and Parenting Time
When one person has sole custody of the child, the other party is given reasonable parenting time per the court’s determination. In the case of abuse, addiction, or other problems, a parent may not be awarded parenting time at all.
Parenting time is also known as visitation rights and the situation can look complicated and feel disjointed. While shared custody allows former spouses to work out an agreeable schedule for seeing and raising their children, parenting time leaves less room for argument or change.
A parenting time schedule outlines – specifically – when the child will have time with each parent, such as Christmas and winter break at one house one year and the same time at the other parent’s house the following year. Weekdays, weekends, holidays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, spring break, and summer are all carefully divvied up, but ultimately the court decides what is in the best interests of the child.
Getting the Child Custody Arrangement You Want
There is no one right answer when it comes to divorce and family law in Michigan. Every couple is different and has their own needs, demands, and obligations that affect how child custody shakes out.
At Michigan Divorce Help in Mount Clemens,Michigan, we understand how difficult divorce is, the strain that it can put on not only you but your child. Our goal is to help you achieve a child custody arrangement that makes you feel good about the present and future and be the best situation for your child. Contact us to schedule your no-cost initial consultation to discuss your Michigan divorce, get answers to your questions about child custody, change an existing child custody agreement, and more.