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Trends in Michigan Divorce, Child Custody, and Child Support

 Posted on April 16, 2018 in Divorce

child support payments, parenting time, Farmington Hills family law attorney, Michigan family law trends, Michigan divorceWhen working through a divorce, it is common to feel lonely and wonder how you will cope on your own. Moreover, if you have children to care for, worrying about how you will manage the new complexities of divided childcare costs and parenting time is natural.

While every family’s situation is unique, stepping back and looking at statewide outcomes and trends can provide a helpful perspective. 

Michigan Marriage and Divorce Numbers

If you are going through a divorce this year, you are definitely not alone. Out of Michigan’s 10 million people, there are about 60,000 marriages per year and 30,000 divorces. This rate of about one divorce for every two new marriages has been steady for over 20 years. 

Trends in Custody and Parenting Arrangements in Michigan

There are two types of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody is held by the parent(s) with whom the child resides. Legal custody is held by the parent(s) with the authority to make all major decisions regarding the child, such as medical treatment and participation in extracurricular activities.

With the help of their lawyers, parents can define their own custody arrangement, and the circuit court judge will typically approve that, as long as the judge believes the agreement is in the best interests of the child. However, if the parents cannot come to an agreement, the judge will must decide. 

If the judge believes the parents cannot work together for the benefit of their child, the judge may award sole physical and legal custody to one parent. The other parent would then be given a routine schedule of parenting time, but typically far less than a 50/50 split (e.g., one evening visit per week plus overnights every other weekend).

Joint physical and/or legal custody arrangements are increasingly common. Between 1990 and 2015, the share of Michigan cases granting joint custody increased from 13 percent to 44 percent. 

In a contested case, a Michigan judge must at least consider joint custody as an option if requested by either parent. 

However, joint custody does not guarantee equal parenting time. In response, a number of states are considering laws to make equal parenting time more common.

Kentucky, for example, has passed a law making making joint physical custody and equal parenting time the default standard for temporary orders while a divorce is in process. In Michigan, a bill was introduced in the legislature in 2017 that would require judges to start from the assumption that children should spend equal time with both parents, but the bill has been very controversial and has not yet been passed.

One concern about equal parenting time is the effect that might have on child support payments, particularly when one spouse has a significantly higher income than the other.

Average Child Support Payments in Michigan

Michigan child support payments total well over $1 billion per year—an average of $164/month per child. Parents in about two-thirds of child support cases owe some past-due support. 

Trusted Child Support and Custody Attorneys in Southeast Michigan

If you are having issues with your court-approved child support and parenting order, it may be time to review and modify the plan. Working with an experienced Farmington Hills family law attorney will make sure your and your children’s best interests are protected. Call Elkouri Heath, PLC at 248-344-9700 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a knowledgeable divorce lawyer at our Novi, Michigan office.







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