Child custody: The basic facts
March 29th, 2018
Generally speaking, as in all aspects of divorce, including property division, child support, asset division, and the like, child support and visitation will either be agreed upon by the parents (with the help of an attorney) or settled in court. Child custody is a big thing that couples fight over, but it is best to settle the terms of custody outside of the court. At the Bashore Green Law Group, we will help you determine the best custody option by considering that which will benefit all parties involved. We will educate you on the court system and how custody is determined. In the meantime, here is a quick overview.
Child custody involves determining where the child will live, who will make major decisions about the child’s upbringing and how frequently he or she will have contact with the other parent. Child custody laws are based on state law. There are a number of different types of custody, including:
- Physical custody: Physical custody is what most people associate with child custody. This is the person who the child will primarily live with.
- Legal custody: Parents who have legal custody are able to make legal decisions on matters impacting the child, such as which school he or she will attend, and what type of medical treatments he or she will receive.
- Joint physical custody: When parents share joint physical custody, the children split time between living with both parents. This does not mean that it has to be an even 50/50 split. In some cases, the state minimum is 35 or 40%. As long as both parents have the child at least 40% of the time, for example, joint physical custody may be in place.
- Joint legal custody: In a situation of joint legal custody, both parents have a say in decisions that impact the child. In the event of a major dispute between parents who share joint legal custody, the courts can settle the dispute.
- Sole custody: Sole custody is where one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child. The other parent may have visitation rights, but does not have any custodial rights, and cannot make decisions affecting the child.
At Bashore Green, we help our clients determine the option that is best for them and for their children. We work and encourage the parents to reach their own agreements regarding custody arrangements, however, when parents cannot agree, the court must decide custody by considering all of the best interest factors of the Michigan Child Custody Act (MCL 722.23). These factors are usually addressed during custody evaluations by the friend of the court, and include:
- Each parent’s physical and emotional well-being
- Each parent’s relationship with and emotional bond to the child
- Each parent’s educational background
- Each parent’s ability to provide the child with a stable environment
- Each parent’s job history and ability to support the child
- The child’s special needs
- The child’s relationship with extended family members
- Each parent’s motives for seeking custody
- Either parent’s history of domestic violence, child abuse, or child neglect, and
- The child’s preference—if the child is of a sufficient age and maturity.
A judge may consider the above factors, as well as any other factors relevant to a child’s best interests. If you find yourself in a child custody battle, it is important to seek qualified legal help right away, so give us a call at the Bashore Green Law Group, and we will help you come up with the best solution possible.