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Michigan Considers Shared Parenting for Divorced Parents

Posted on in Divorce

Michigan Considers Shared Parenting for Divorced Parents

When parents decide to end their marriage, they often disagree about custody arrangements for their children, and battles over who will retain primary custody can be an especially contentious part of divorce proceedings. The children are often the ones who suffer the most in these types of conflicts, and in order to provide a better environment for children following divorce, the Michigan House of Representatives is currently considering legislation which would give equal parenting time to divorced parents.

Proposed Changes to Michigan Law

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there are around 26,000 children in Michigan every year whose parents get divorced. In many of these cases, family courts award primary custody to one parent. However, polls have shown that there is overwhelming support for divorcing parents to have joint custody and equal parenting time, with 84% of registered voters believing that this is in the best interests of children, as long as a parent does not have a history of abuse, substance addiction, or mental illness.

House Bill 4691, known as the Michigan Shared Parenting Act, would change the law to state that children have a right to “substantially equal parenting time” in which courts would try to provide “balance and equality” in the number of overnight stays children have with each parent. The law would also set a limit of 200 overnights for one parent each year, unless the parents agree otherwise.

Under this proposed law, Michigan family courts would approach each situation with the presumption that parents will share equal parenting time rather than assuming that one parent will have primary custody. In order to ensure children’s safety, the law includes exceptions in cases of domestic violence, abuse, or any other situation that would endanger a child’s health, safety, or welfare.

Studies In Favor of Shared Parenting

In addition to popular support for equal parenting time, a number of recent studies have found that children fare better when they have a relationship with both parents. In a recent study from Sweden, researchers showed that children who live in joint physical custody situations have better overall health and fewer psychological problems than children who primarily reside with one parent.

Another recent study published in a journal of the American Psychological Association looked at whether children in co-parenting situations were exposed to more conflict between their parents and whether this had a negative result. The study found that while it is important to avoid exposing children to conflict, children fare best when they have a good relationship with both parents.

Contact a Novi, Michigan Child Custody Lawyer

If you need help determining a custody arrangement in your divorce, the compassionate family law attorneys of Elkouri Heath PLC can help you reach an agreement that protects your children’s best interests. Contact an Oakland County divorce attorney at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free consultation.


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