Custody & Visitation
Serving: Ingham, Eaton, and Clinton Counties (Lansing – East Lansing – Okemos – DeWitt – St. Johns – Grand Ledge – Charlotte)
There may be many issues in dispute during a divorce, but none as important as custody and visitation. It is essential that you are represented by competent and experienced counsel to protect your rights.
Custody: There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody has to do with who has a right to participate in important decisions in the children’s lives such as education, religion, and medical decisions. In most cases, the parties share joint legal custody; however, in some cases only one party will have legal custody. Physical custody has more to do with who is the primary care giver. We usually recommend that we determine an appropriate parenting time schedule first, then put a name to it based upon the schedule. As a rule of thumb, if a party has more than 2/3 of the overnights, then that party would have primary physical custody. If each party has at least 1/3 of the overnights, then the parties would share joint physical custody. There may be important ramifications along with the designation of joint or primary custody.
In making a decision regarding custody, the Court is required to use the “Best Interest” factors, which are:
Best Interests of the Minor Children, MCL 722.23
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of the State in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence as a family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child.
Parenting Time (Visitation): If the parents are able to agree on a parenting time schedule, the Court will usually approve and adopt it. If the parents are unable to agree, then the Court will fashion a parenting time / visitation schedule based upon a number of factors, which include the availability of the parents based upon their work / school schedules, the parenting ability of the parents, and the best interest of the children. In some cases, it may be necessary to restrict or supervise parenting time if a parent has substance abuse or anger issues.
If you are involved in a custody or parenting time dispute, it is essential that you are represented by a competent and experienced attorney with a history of success.