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The basics about child custody in Michigan

On Behalf of | Feb 19, 2024 | Child Custody |

Working through a child custody case in Michigan can be one of the most emotionally trying types of legal case that a person can go through because, unless the parties agree on how this issue should be resolved, there is likely to be some courtroom litigation needed to come to a final resolution on the issue. That means experiencing the adversarial nature of the courtroom over what is probably the most important thing in your life – your kids.

Child custody basics

Michigan residents who take the time to learn about the basics of child custody in Michigan may have an easier time following the legal proceedings and keeping their emotions in check. In the end, focusing on the legal issue itself may make the parties involved feel better about whatever child custody arrangement becomes the end result.

First, there is legal custody and there is physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions in the child’s life, like where the child will go to school or church, what types of extracurricular activities the child will participate in and even what type of medical treatment the child will receive, for example. Most courts start from the default position that the parents will have joint legal custody, meaning both will have an equal say in these important decisions.

Physical custody refers to where the child will actually live. Courts can get creative here, as long as the standard of what is best for the child is the paramount concern in mind. Oftentimes, one parent or the other will have primary physical custody since it is hard to do joint physical custody of a child.

The term “parenting time” is common in Michigan to refer to the time that a child spends with the parent who does not have primary physical custody. But, there will be an effort to make sure that both parents have close to equal parenting time with the child.