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Understanding child custody in Michigan

Divorce cases that involve children in Michigan entail determining who gets custody of the children. This involves figuring out how much time the child spends with each parent and what responsibilities each party has in the child's upbringing. In ideal circumstances, the parents are able to discuss and agree upon an arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. When this is challenging, the courts get involved with the process of determining an agreement.

According to the Michigan Courts, sole custody refers to the arrangement in which one parent is granted legal and physical custody. Joint custody means that both parents share in the responsibilities related to raising the child. With joint custody, both legal and physical guardianship must be determined. Some factors that come to play in deciding custody issues include:

  • Health of each of the parties
  • Current emotional ties between the child and parents
  • Capacity of parties to provide educational, nutritional, medical and shelter needs of the child
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • Willingness of each party to provide a loving and safe environment
  • Domestic violence, addiction or other related factors

If the child is considered to be old enough, their input and preference is considered as part of the decision.

Once a decision by the court is made, the arrangement continues even if one spouse moves to another state. According to Uniform Law Commission, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was established in 1997. This act has been adopted by all states and eliminates conflicts in cases in which custody matters cross state lines, which keeps things consistent. 

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