Different Types of Custody in Michigan

Assigning child custody is often a difficult undertaking. In an ideal situation, both parents will be committed to the best interests of the child, both will want equal parenting time, and both will be fit to provide for the needs of their child. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and family courts are often left to determine what is in the best interests of a child where custody is concerned.

As a parent, this can be an extremely frustrating and contentious process. However, it helps to start by understanding what the different types of custody in Michigan are. Here are the different types of custody and what they mean for parents and children involved in custody cases.

Physical vs. Legal Custody
It’s a fairly common misconception that custody is only concerned with where a child will live, but there are actually two different forms of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody has to do with where a child will live, while legal custody centers on making important decisions about a child’s life.

For example, parents that share legal custody of a child may have to confer before the child is placed in a daycare facility or enrolled in a private school. They might have to agree on whether a teenager is allowed to get a car. It’s important to understand the ramifications of both physical and legal custody when going through a custody case.

Sole Custody
Many parents wish to seek sole physical and legal custody of a child for a variety of reasons. Some believe that the other parent isn’t fit or doesn’t have the means to care for a child. Or perhaps they merely want to avoid the hassles of sharing custody.

However, it’s important to think about the best interests of the child before seeking sole custody, because the court certainly will. In cases where both parents are fit and both want a relationship with children, courts tend to favor a custody situation where children can continue to have relationships with both of their parents.

Joint Custody
Joint custody involves sharing a child. Joint physical custody means that a child spends time living in each parent’s household. The allocation of that time could be equal or it could be split up in different ways, depending on the agreement parents come to or the decision of the court. Joint legal custody means that one parent cannot make a major decision regarding the child without first consulting with the other parent and coming to an agreement.

Parenting Time/Visitation
Parenting time has to do with the schedule when a child will spend time with each parent. If a divorce is amicable, parents may be able to set and manage their own schedule, and potentially allow for a measure of flexibility. If the divorce and custody case are contentions, a judge may set a strict schedule for parents to follow. In some cases, one parent may have a visitation schedule that includes supervised visits (such as in cases of abuse), whereby a third party must monitor visits.

Child custody cases can be understandably emotional, and you can benefit from the guidance of a qualified and experienced attorney. Call The Gucciardo Law Firm at 248-723-5190 today to get the professional help you need.

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