Michigan as the Right State to File a Child Custody Case
Obtaining custody over your child is understandably stressful. To lessen your anxiety, we’re here to give you a general background on child custody in Michigan. One of the first questions you should ask is whether Michigan is the proper state to present your case. A Michigan court will obtain jurisdiction over your case only if it is your child’s home state, which entails that he or she currently lives in Michigan, or if he or she has lived in Michigan for the past six months. If you have any doubts if Michigan is the right state to file for custody, our attorneys can help you.
Types of Child Custody
There are two general types of custody:
- Legal custody
Legal custody enables you to make important life decisions for your child, including education, health care, and general welfare. When the court grants joint legal custody, both parents have a say in these life decisions. Thus, they must consult each other before reaching a final decision. On the other hand, sole legal custody is the ability of only one parent to make all such life decisions.
- Physical custody
Physical custody pertains to the actual residence of the child. The court may grant joint physical custody, which means that there are specific times when each parent will have the child stay with them. Usually, one parent is designated as the primary custodian, while the other parent has parenting time according to a schedule. In contrast, sole physical custody entails that the child lives with only one parent. In this case, the other parent may be granted parenting time or visitation rights.
If either of the parents requests joint custody, the court must consider ordering it. Today, the trend in Michigan is toward joint custody. Between 1990 and 2015, Michigan cases granting joint custody increased from 13 percent to 44 percent.
Gaining Custody of Your Child
- By mutual agreement of the parties
The parents of the child can come to an agreement regarding child custody and parenting time. To have this agreement binding, you must ask the court to enter a written order that contains the terms of the arrangement. The agreement of the parents will be respected by the court, as long as it complies with state law.
- Court ordered custody
If the parents cannot agree as to custody and parenting time, the court will hold a trial. The court will first determine if the child is already living in an established custodial environment with any of the parents. An established custodial environment refers to the child’s physical and psychological environment that develops over a significant amount of time.
If the court determines that there is an established custodial environment, the petitioning party must prove with clear and convincing evidence that changing it would be in the best interests of the child. The Michigan Child Custody Act, particularly Sec. 722.23, defines the “best interests of the child” as the sum total of the following factors:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
Thus, the court must consider all of these factors in determining child custody.
Child Appearance in Court
It is not necessary that the child appears in court. Usually, a judge interviews a child in the court chambers and both parents are not allowed to be present. However, the child can be required to attend a court hearing if he or she would like to voice an opinion or is needed to testify.
For Trusted and Reliable Legal Help, Contact The Clark Law Office Today
As there is no standard formula, each child custody dispute must be reviewed on a case to case basis. Our experienced okemos divorce lawyers make sure that the best interests of our clients and their children are protected. Contact us today at (517) 347-6900 or send us a message for a consultation.