The simplest way to describe the difference between child custody and parenting time is this: Child custody is who gets to make decisions about the kid; parenting time is who gets to see the kid and for how long. When you get a divorce in Michigan, the legal system typically allows parents to come up with the best situation possible for their children. Every divorce is different, and so is every parent, but the consistent variable is that everything – in the court’s eyes – must be done in the best interest of the child.
Understanding Child Custody
Michigan courts categorize child custody as either legal or physical.
Legal custody is usually awarded to both parents. This allows both parties to have a say in the major elements of their child’s life, from education decisions to healthcare choices to religious upbringing. Some parents may fight for sole legal custody, so an absentee parent does not get a vote in what’s best for the child.
Physical custody describes where a child lives most of the time. This category is split into two pieces: sole physical custody or joint physical custody.
- In cases of sole custody, the parent who has the child all the time is known as the custodial parent. The other, non-custodial parent has reasonable parenting time, which means there may not be any overnights or holidays spent with that parent. The details can be hashed out in different ways until both parties are satisfied. Often, if a parent has sole custody it’s because the other parent is largely uninvolved.
- When parents have joint physical custody, they essentially share the child and split their time with the child. This arrangement has a variety of configurations – one week with one parent, the next week with the other parent, and so on; holidays and weekends and a month in summer with one parent and the rest of the time with the other parent; one night a week and every other weekend with one parent and all other times with the other parent. The configurations are endless, though many amicable splits aim to have joint physical custody work out as close to 50-50 as possible.
Understanding Parenting Time
Parenting time is a privilege. If one parent has sole custody but the other parent cannot prove their worthiness to be awarded parenting time – whether because of abuse, addiction, or other variables – parenting time may not be allowed at all.
Sometimes parenting time is referred to as visitation rights in matters of sole custody. Visitation may be supervised or severely limited in location and scope. In some situations, grandparents may petition for visitation rights even if their son or daughter does not get to see the child.
Parenting time in shared custody usually works out fairly enough with an outlined schedule, agreed upon by both parties, that is to be followed to the letter. The details can get as specific as where the child spends his or her birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and all major and minor holidays.
Are you unsatisfied with your custody or parenting time arrangement? Get help from a Macomb County divorce lawyer. Schedule your consultation with Femminineo Attorneys PLLC in Mount Clemens to get advice and the help you need to protect your time with your child.