Child Custody and Parenting Time
For Michigan parents, the well-being of their children is their chief concern. Parents who are divorcing, separating, or who have never lived together but have a child in common have many questions about child custody and parenting time, and how the process of co-parenting works when the parents don't share a household or their relationship changes.
Michigan Child Custody
Child custody has two aspects: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody simply refers to the parent with whom the child lives most of the time. Legal custody refers to the right to make important life decisions for a child, such as decisions about education, medical care, and religious training. Parents may reach an agreement about custody, and so long as it appears reasonable, Michigan courts will generally approve it. If the parents cannot agree, however, the court must make a custody decision.
In Michigan, courts decide custody based on the "best interests of the child." There are multiple factors involved in a best interests determination, and the court must consider each one before deciding that a particular custodial arrangement would be in a child's best interests. The factors, as set forth in Michigan Compiled Laws 722.23, are:
- 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.
Most of these factors are somewhat subjective in nature. It's absolutely critical in a Michigan custody dispute to have a family law attorney who understands how to identify and present evidence that will demonstrate that the factors favor her client. Carol Jones Dwyer has decades of experience with Michigan child custody disputes and local courts. She knows how to present a custody case to the court in a way that is most favorable to her client, so they can have peace of mind regarding their children's future. She knows that the legal decisions made when her client's case is first brought to court will shape the parent/child relationship for years to come, and that's why each client needs and deserves the the toughest advocate they can get.
Michigan Parenting Time
In Michigan, what was once known as "visitation" is now called parenting time. This change in language reflects the reality that parents should not be mere visitors in their children's lives. Michigan public policy is that, with narrow exceptions, it is beneficial for children to have a strong relationship with both parents, and adequate parenting time must be granted to build and strengthen that relationship. Like child custody, parenting time is focused on the needs and interests of children, not those of parents.
There are many possible configurations of parenting time. Carol Jones Dwyer works with clients to identify the parenting time arrangement that will work best for their children and to advocate for that. Occasionally, an existing parenting time schedule will no longer work for a family, due either to unforeseen circumstances or changes in the child's needs. Carol Jones Dwyer represents clients in both initial parenting time determinations and in motions to modify parenting time.
Consult an Experienced Michigan Custody Attorney
If you are faced with a Michigan child custody or parenting time dispute, consult with a Michigan custody attorney who has the years of experience to advise you and the dedication to advocate for your children's needs. Carol Jones Dwyer works with clients in Barry County, and the surrounding Michigan counties, including Kent, Kalamazoo, Ionia, Ingham, Allegan and Calhoun Counties.
If you would like to learn more about how Carol Jones Dwyer can help with your Michigan custody or parenting time matter, please contact our office at 269-945-5050 or via our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.