In general, courts favor granting both parents joint legal and physical custody absent a showing that one of the parents is unfit. Merely stating that the child prefers one parent over the other or that one parent is a better parent than the other is not enough.
Joint vs Sole Custody in Michigan
Joint custody may be joint legal custody and/or joint physical custody. Joint legal custody is routinely awarded to both parties and refers to both parents’ right and obligation to make decisions about their child(ren)’s upbringing, including schooling, medical care and religious upbringing. The parents must work with one another and consult with one another about these types of decisions. If the parties cannot agree and work together, the parties may file a motion with the court to decide. Neither, however, can make a decision on their own without the consent of the other party.
Joint physical custody refers to both parents’ right to have the child live with him/her. This arrangement may take many forms. For example:
- the child may live with mom from Monday-Wednesday and with dad from Thursday to Sunday; or
- the child may live with mom one week and with dad the following week; or
- the child may live with mom everyday and with dad every alternating weekend; or
- the child may live with dad everyday and with mom on Tuesdays and Sundays.
The options are endless. The schedule usually reflects both parents’ work obligations, the housing arrangements and the children’s needs. But what is ultimately important is that whatever schedule the court institutes must be in the best interest of the child.
In most cases, it is in the best interest of the child for the parents to maintain joint physical and legal custody. A child needs their mother and father equally. There are, of course, exceptions to that rule where one parent is unfit.
Every family’s custodial arrangement will be different. The determination of custody is specific to the needs of the child. To get an idea of what your custody arrangement might look like, it is a smart idea to discuss the issue with an experienced attorney.
Free Consultation with a Michigan Child Custody Attorney
For more information about divorce and family law, or to retain The Divorce Attorneys of Michigan, please call us at 248-785-3634