The Importance of Knowing Exactly What Child Custody Involves. Having Issues?
In Michigan, the phrase “child custody” encompasses two distinct sets of rights that can be awarded to a parent in any proceeding where the custody of a minor child is at issue. The first form of custody is known as “legal custody,” and its importance is often overlooked by both attorneys and parties. This form of custody gives a parent the right to have a say in the important decisions in his or her child’s life (medical treatment, religious training, schooling, etc.) and the right to have access to important records (medical, school, etc.).
In Michigan, most parents will share legal custody of a minor child equally. This is an arrangement commonly referred to as “joint legal custody.” Many courts in Michigan prefer a joint arrangement as opposed to awarding one parent sole legal custody. This is universally true unless, of course, it is clear to the court that one parent is absolutely incapable of making decisions that are in a child’s best interests or otherwise unfit to serve in that capacity. If the parents are awarded joint legal custody, they are required to cooperate in many aspects of parenting and to do the following: (1) communicate with one another; (2) work together in certain aspects to make important decisions for their child/children; (3) not do anything that may disparage one another in front of the child/children; and (4) not make any attempt to diminish the child’s/children’s love and affection for the other parent.
The second form of child custody in Michigan is referred to as “physical custody.” This aspect of child custody determines where and with whom a child will reside and, like legal custody, can be shared equally by the parties. In many instances, physical custody overshadows legal custody due to the fact that it determines: (1) which parent pays/receives child support; and (2) which parent is entitled to claim a child as a dependent for tax purposes. As you can imagine, the battle for physical custody of a child can often be a point of contention between the parties and greatly increases the cost of litigation for both sides.
In many instances, the issue of child custody is resolved without a hearing by an agreement between the parties. However, in the event that the parents are unable to resolve this issue prior to a hearing, the Michigan courts will make a determination based upon the “best interests of the child.” (a) The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
The arguments that can be made and the procedures associated with a child custody dispute are often much more complicated than most parents initially realize. Thus, if you find yourself involved in a situation where the custody of your child or children is in question, your first step should be to consult with an experienced Michigan family law attorney.
At Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC, we understand that the circumstances surrounding your situation are specific to your life. That is why we take a thoughtful and personal approach to each case because the outcome will affect not only your life but the life of your child for years to come. So if you or someone you know is involved in a child custody dispute, contact the law offices of Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC to schedule a free in-office consultation to discuss your case with one of our experienced family law attorneys. Call and schedule your appointment today and get the honest and thoughtful advice that you deserve.