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When a couple with children divorces, a child custody arrangement is generally part of their divorce settlement. Child custody refers to the rights and responsibilities of a child’s parents to provide a home for him or her and to make important decisions on his or her behalf. Determining child custody can be a complicated process and in some cases, can become contentious between parents. Before you reach this part of your divorce, prepare yourself by taking the time to learn about how child custody is determined in Michigan and your role in this determination as a divorcing parent. Talk to your lawyer about the different types of child custody as well as other child-related aspects of a divorce settlement, like child support and a parenting time plan.
There are two aspects to a child custody plan: physical custody and legal custody.
Physical custody is the responsibility to provide a home for one’s child. This includes providing meals, utilities, and household goods.
Legal custody refers to the responsibility to make critical decisions on the child’s behalf, such as the school he or she will attend, whether he or she will attend religious services, and the child’s medical care.
Both types of custody can be held jointly or solely. When parents have joint custody, they both have the rights afforded by that type of custody to the child. For example, parents who have joint legal custody must work together to make decisions about their child’s upbringing. When a parent has sole custody, he or she makes all related decisions alone.
It is possible for a child to have a custody agreement that involves both joint and sole custody. For example, the parents might have joint legal custody while one parent has sole physical custody.
When child custody is determined, creating an arrangement that suits the child’s best interests is the goal. To do this, the court works with a professional known as a Friend of the Court to gather information about the child’s personal needs and relationships with both parents. Information the court considers to make this determination includes:
As a parent going through a divorce, your child custody arrangement is probably one of your top concerns. To learn more about how child custody is determined in Michigan and how you can advocate for your rights and interests as a parent, speak with an experienced family lawyer. Contact our team at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C. today to schedule your free legal consultation in our office.