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Novi legal and physical child custody attorneyChild custody is one of the most important and consequential legal issues that families may need to address. During the divorce process, parents will need to determine how they will share custody of their children. Unmarried couples may also need to address this issue and ensure that both parents will be able to maintain a close, ongoing relationship with their children. When determining how to handle custody-related matters, it is important for parents to understand the different types of custody and how these cases are handled in Michigan’s family courts.

Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody

Child custody issues generally fall into two categories. The first category, which is commonly known as “legal custody,” involves the authority to make important decisions affecting the welfare of the child. Legal custody generally involves the right to make major decisions about how children will be raised. This may include medical decisions such as which doctors children will visit and what treatments they will receive or educational decisions such as where they will go to school. Legal custody may also address decisions about children’s practice of religion or what activities they will participate in.

The second category is commonly known as “physical custody,” and it is referred to as parenting time in Michigan. This refers to the time that children will spend with each parent, including the days that they will live in each parent’s home during the school year and during holidays and school vacations, as well as any other times they will be in the care of a parent.

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Common Questions About Child Custody in MichiganIf you are a parent who is unmarried or planning to divorce, you may have many questions about child custody in Michigan. Parents are encouraged to work out their own child custody arrangements, but understandably, this is not always possible. If parents cannot come to an agreement regarding custody and parenting time, the court will intervene and determine a child custody schedule on behalf of the parents. In Michigan, the Child Custody Act dictates how the court makes decisions about parenting time and custody.

Joint Custody or Sole Custody?

There are two types of custody under Michigan law: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is a parent’s decision-making authority and physical custody is where the child physically lives. Parents with joint legal custody consult with one another regarding major child-related decisions whereas sole legal custody assigns all decision-making responsibilities to one parent. In a joint physical custody arrangement, the child maintains a residence with both parents. Typically, one parent in a joint custody arrangement is the primary custodian and the other parent enjoys child visitation, technically called parenting time in Michigan law. When a parent has sole physical custody, the child resides only with them.

Best Interest Factors Considered During Custody Disputes

When parents cannot agree on custody issues, the court will make a determination based on the child’s best interests. The Michigan Child Custody Act lists the factors used to evaluate what type of child custody arrangement is in the child’s best interest. These factors include but are not limited to:

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