Custody decisions are made based on what is in the best interest of the child, and it is rare to encounter a divorced Michigan couple where one party has full custody of their children. The state prefers parents to share custody of a child whenever possible. However, there are exceptions to every arrangement, and no two custody agreements are identical.
Definitions of Custody
Also known as “sole custody,” full custody is generally accepted to mean that one parent has both legal custody and physical custody of the children.
When a parent has legal custody of a child, they have the right to make all important decisions for the child. This can include choices surrounding medical care, schooling, extracurricular activities, travel out of the country or state, day care arrangements, and so forth. Physical custody simply means the child regularly resides with one parent.
“Standard” custody in Michigan divorce law means one party has sole physical custody of the child and the non-custodial parent has reasonable parenting time to spend with their child, such as weekends, certain holidays, school breaks, and summertime. In this situation, parents often have joint legal custody which means that both parents have an active role in their child’s life and neither parent can make a major choice for their child without the other’s approval.
The Child Custody Act and Mediation
For Michigan in particular, the state code includes the Child Custody Act which names 12 specific criteria that must be taken into consideration by the judge presiding over a divorce case involving children.
Michigan judges typically order divorcing parents to participate in mediation before custody orders are issued to see if it’s possible for parents to work out a custody agreement without involving the court. The state does favor joint custody.
Sometimes it’s necessary to get creative when solidifying custody arrangements, and there are any number of ways that parenting time can be divided equally and fairly between divorced parents while maintaining consistency and stability in the child’s life.