Child Custody in Michigan
When you’re facing divorce, we know there’s nothing more important than the welfare of your children and preserving your relationship with them. The court’s job in a custody case is to protect the best interests of the children. Our job is to simultaneously protect your rights and your access to your children.
Get that protection right now. Call 269-978-6560 to schedule your free consultation.
What is Child Custody?
While most people use the term “custody” generally, under Michigan law there are actually two separate types of custody, both of which must be decided in a divorce case involving children or a paternity case.
Physical custody, as the phrase suggests, refers to which parent the children are with physically. This includes the child’s primary residence, and the allocation of time spent in each parent’s custody.
Legal custody refers to decision-making power, and may be awarded to one parent or shared. If one parent is awarded sole legal custody, that parent has the authority to make decisions regarding the child’s residence, education, religious participation, extracurricular activities, medical care and the like. When joint legal custody is awarded, the parents work together to make these decisions.
Child Custody Outside of Marriage
Child custody and related determinations are just as important when the child is born to unmarried parents. If you’ve fathered a child outside of marriage, we can help ensure that your rights are protected by establishing paternity and asserting your right to parenting time. If you are an unmarried mother, we can help you protect the best interests of your child.
Call us at 269-978-6560.
Post-Divorce Child Custody Issues in Michigan
A divorce decree is often referred to as a “final order,” but where minor children are involved it is never certain that the order will be final. A change in circumstances or lack of cooperation on the part of one or both parents may mean returning to court. Some of the most common situations in which divorced parents may need further legal assistance are discussed below.
Child Custody Modifications
Lawmakers recognize that there will be times when the original custody order is no longer appropriate. However, that reality is balanced against the need for stability in the children’s lives, which provides good reason not to disturb a custody order lightly. As a result, a custody order may be modified in Michigan, but only when there has been a significant change in circumstances that warrants a change.
Some situations that may provide grounds for a custody modification include a residential move, a change in employment that significantly impacts parenting time, substance abuse, or other circumstances that significantly affect the day-to-day life of the child.
Custody and Relocation
One of the most complicated issues that arises regarding custody post-divorce involves the custodial parent wanting to relocate. Short-distance moves are at the custodial parent’s discretion (though depending on the circumstances, a move may occasionally trigger a petition to modify custody). However, a parent who wishes to move the children more than 100 miles from the non-custodial parent must either obtain the consent of the non-custodial parent or ask the court to resolve the issue.
Enforcement of Custody Orders
Your custody order sets forth what each parent is legally required to do. Unfortunately, parents sometimes choose not to play by the rules. When one parent interferes with the other’s access to the children, it may be necessary to return to court to enforce the original order and/or make modifications.
Talk to a Kalamazoo, Michigan Custody Lawyer
Whether you’re just preparing to file for divorce or you’ve been divorced for years and your custody order is no longer workable, we can help. Attorney Tara L. Sharp understands how stressful the process of determining or modifying custody can be, and will take the time to help you fully understand what to expect and how you can best protect your interests.
Of course, it’s always best if parents can work together in the best interests of the children, and we’ll make every effort to help you facilitate that. However, you can rest assured that if necessary, we are prepared to fiercely protect your rights and the interests of your children.
Get the advice you need right now. Just call 269-978-6560. The initial consultation is free.