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Could a child custody dispute put you in contempt of court?

Family law courts in Michigan generally endeavor to be impartial when presiding over child custody disputes. Gone are the days when a mother was afforded a presumption of sole legal and/or physical custody. Yet one local judge may have gone too far in her attempts to be neutral to both parties in a contentious divorce. The judge is now facing a 30-day suspension, which would be handed down by the Michigan Supreme Court.

At issue is the judge’s order that sent three minor children to juvenile detention. The order arose in a divorce proceeding over which the judge was presiding. Before finalizing the custody and parenting time arrangements, the judge requested the children have lunch with their father. However, the children, who were ages 9, 10 and 15 at the time, refused. In response, the judge held them in contempt. 

Our law firm has helped many clients negotiate legal and physical child custody disputes. The court must ultimately approve any custody and support proposals, including which parent will claim the children as dependents on his or her tax return. Yet we also encourage our clients to negotiate as many details as possible without the court’s involvement, with the assistance of their attorneys. Doing so may save the parties both time and money, in addition to shielding children from further fighting.

With an attorney present, a parent can be confident that his or her rights are being advocated. An attorney can also make recommendations in light of the best interest of the child standard. Under Michigan law, there are 12 factors that inform that standard. We’ll take a closer look at these child custody factors in our next post.

Source: CBS Detroit, “Michigan’s Top Court Deciding Whether To Punish Judge Who Locked Kids Up In Custody Case,” Lisa Gorcyca, March 8, 2017

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Rochester, MI 48307

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