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Determining child custody is just one part of the divorce process. However, it can easily become the most emotional, difficult part of the divorce process for a couple, driving wedges between the couple and complicating their relationships with their children. If you are a parent considering filing for divorce or who has already begun the process, speak with an experienced child custody lawyer about what you can expect from this process.
A child custody arrangement is known as a parenting plan. A parenting plan has many parts, which fall into two broad categories: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the responsibility of providing a home for the child and all that comes with providing a home, such as food and household goods. Legal custody refers to the responsibility of making decisions on the child’s behalf for his or her benefit, such as decisions about his or her healthcare. In most cases, parents are granted joint custody in both areas, giving both parents the right to make decisions for their child and the responsibility of providing for him or her. However, it is possible for a parent to receive sole custody of their child in either or both categories or for the court to develop a mixed plan. For example, the court might determine that a child would benefit most if his or her parents have joint legal custody, but one parent has sole physical custody.
When determining a parenting plan, Michigan courts work with individuals known as Friends of the Court to make determinations by examining multiple factors present in the family’s life. These factors include, but are not limited to, the following:
Your lawyer can guide you through the child custody determination process. He or she can be your advocate throughout this and the other portions of your divorce by advising you about how to interact with the court and how to use the evidence at your disposal effectively. Evidence you can use to demonstrate your parenting abilities to the court include testimonies from your child’s teachers and other adults in his or her life, data collected from a court-ordered psychological evaluation, and documentation like your child’s medical record and past report cards.
Child custody can be a difficult topic to work through during the divorce process because emotions tend to run high. You can make this part of your divorce easier for yourself by learning about it in advance and talking about what to expect with your lawyer. To learn more about how child custody is determined in Michigan, work with a member of our team of Rochester child custody lawyers at Iafrate & Salassa, P.C.