When Is Sole Legal Custody Appropriate in Michigan?

The vast majority of parents have the well-being of their children in mind when going through the process of determining child custody following separation or divorce. In an ideal situation, parents will remain amicable and find ways to share custody and care of children so that both can continue to have a relationship with children and kids can enjoy the least amount of disruption. In addition, parents will be able to discuss and agree upon decisions regarding childrearing.

However, there are cases in which joint custody simply won’t work. In cases of abuse by one parent, for example, the other parent may be granted sole physical custody, by which the children remain exclusively in one household. There are also cases in which one parent may be awarded sole legal custody, inferring the right to make decisions about children’s upbringing without first consulting the other parent. When is this appropriate and how is it determined?

When is Sole Legal Custody Appropriate?
Both parents naturally have an interest in making decisions regarding the welfare and upbringing of their children. In cases of joint legal custody, parents must confer and agree on decisions regarding schooling, religion, health care, discipline, and other matters surrounding the basic issues of childrearing.

In cases where parents cannot agree, or where the relationship is so contentious that communication is ineffective, for example, the court may have no choice but to assign sole legal custody to one parent in the interest of ensuring that decisions are made on behalf of children. How does the court go about determining which parent receives this responsibility?

How is Sole Legal Custody Determined?
As with determining physical custody of children, there are a number of potential factors involved in determining legal custody. In making a determination of sole legal custody, the court may consider:

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties between parties involved and children
  • The capacity and disposition of parties to provide love, affection, guidance, and so on
  • The capacity and disposition of parties to provide for physical needs (food, clothing, shelter, medical care, etc.)
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment
  • The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • The moral fitness of parties
  • The mental and physical health of parties
  • The child’s record (home, school, community, etc.)
  • The reasonable preference of the child (depending on the child’s age)
  • The willingness of parties to facilitate a relationship between the child and the other party
  • Issues of domestic violence
  • Other factors determined by the court to be relevant

In some cases, parents prove unable to overcome animosities or differences in opinion where childrearing is concerned. This is when the court must step in and determine which parent will be granted sole legal custody and decision-making power concerning the lives of the children. This can occur even in cases where parents share physical custody of children.

If you are seeking sole legal custody of a child, don’t leave it up to the courts to decide. Partner with the qualified attorneys at The Gucciardo Law Firm for the best chance to get the favorable outcome you desire. Contact us now at 248-723-5190 to get started.

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