Here I answer frequently asked questions that I receive from new clients. I understand why there are so many questions, too, because there's a lot of misinformation about child custody. Plus, each state law varies significantly or subtly on child custody.
If you still have questions or want more specific information about your child custody matter, contact Law Office of Cery R. Kennedy my office at 616-326-1970 or click here to schedule an appointment.
What is the most common child custody arrangement in Michigan?
Child custody arrangements vary from family to family and state to state. There are several arrangements that are more popular than others, including legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint legal custody, and sole legal custody. Of these, joint legal custody is the most common custody arrangement. This is where both parents are involved in the decisions regarding how their child is raised.
If we were never married, do I still need a custody order?
The answer to this question depends on your end goal. If you are seeking to establish any rights to the child, including custody, visitation, or child support, paternity does need to be confirmed.
How is child custody determined in Michigan ?
In most states and most situations, when the parents of a child are able to agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will issue an order that confirms the terms of the agreement. When the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they may have to attend mediation or arbitration to see if that helps. When all else fails, the court will hear the matter and issue an order the parties must abide by. The court will consider testimony, best interest factors, and other evidence when deciding child custody. The best interest of the child is always the criteria the court uses in these decisions.
What's the difference between legal and physical custody?
When a parent has physical custody, they actually have the physical child placed with them. This is the parent that lives with the child and takes care of their everyday needs. One parent may have primary physical custody while the other has secondary physical custody.
A parent that has legal custody is the one that is allowed to make important decisions about the child, including decisions regarding the child's medical care, education, and religious upbringing. Joint legal custody may be awarded to both parents so that they both have input in making these important decisions for their child.
Does custody always go to one parent?
This is an incorrect assumption many people make. The answer is “no.” The truth is that courts often award other types of custody arrangements, such as joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of both. Some states do require a primary custodian, though, but that does not mean one parent gets full custody.
The courts always consider the evidence and the best interest of the child to be of paramount concern.
Do I need a child custody lawyer in Michigan ?
It's really up to you if you want a child custody lawyer. As for needing one, that depends on what is meant by that. Child custody laws are nuanced yet stringent. Mistakes are not affordable because the custody of your child is at stake.
In many cases, parents mutually agree on child custody arrangements, and so that makes the matter easier. In some of those cases, though, a parent may have felt compelled to agree, and so having a family law attorney advise you on what's fair (or not) is beneficial. In contentious situations, a child custody lawyer is highly recommended. It takes skills, knowledge, and a lot of perseverance to make sure the child custody arrangement approved or ordered by the court is fair and just and reflects what you had anticipated.