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Child Custody

Child Custody vs. Child Placement: Is There a Difference?

If you and your spouse are going through a divorce, you’re working through many issues. No single issue is likely as concerning to you as where your children will live and which one of you will have the right to make decisions on their behalf.

You might have heard the terms “child custody” and “child placement,” but you may be uncertain about the difference.

Child Custody in Michigan

The Child Custody Act of 1970 assumes that it’s in the best interests of any child to have a strong relationship with both parents, even if they are divorced. To that end, Michigan recognizes two kinds of custody. The distinctions between the two are important.

Legal Custody

Legal custody refers to which parent has the authority to make decisions for children about things like:

  • Health care
  • Child care
  • Religious affiliation
  • Education
  • Extra-curricular activities
  • Decisions about general well-being

Joint legal custody ensures that both parents have a say in these decisions. It assumes that the parents will be able to discuss any out-of-the-ordinary decisions with each other to agree on what is best for the child. Sole custody grants all of the decision-making power to one parent.

Physical Placement

Physical custody or placement refers to where a child physically resides. Sole physical custody means that the child lives with one parent all of the time. The other parent may or may not have visitation rights.

Joint physical custody refers to an arrangement where the child lives with both parents. Normally one parent has primary custody while the other has a set visitation according to a specific schedule.

How Does the Court Determine Custody?

In Michigan, courts look at 12 elements to make custody decisions based on what is best for the children involved. Michigan courts look at the following “best interests” factors when making these decisions:

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the parents
  • The capacity and willingness to give the child love, affection, and guidance, continue the child’s education and raise the child in its religion
  • The capacity and desire of the parents to provide food, clothing, and care
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable home and how that can be maintained
  • The permanence of the proposed home
  • The mental and physical health of all of the parties
  • The child’s home, school, and community record
  • The preference of the child if the child is deemed old enough to express it
  • The willingness of the parents to allow a close bond with the other parent
  • Any history of domestic violence
  • Any other issues the court deems relevant

The court will look at all these factors to determine what is in the child’s best interests.

Get Help with Custody and Placement Decisions

The experienced Michigan family law attorneys at Gucciardo Family Law can help you understand and apply the factors that courts use to determine custody. Call us today and let us help you secure a custody decision that works best for you and your

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