Child Custody

Loraine R. Kuhn – Child Custody Attorney in Michigan

In Michigan, Family Courts have jurisdiction to determine custody issues.  This can be as part of a divorce, separate maintenance or paternity action.

Best Interests of the Child

Courts decide child custody based on what they determine is in the “best interests of the child”.  The following factors are considered, evaluated and determined by the Court:

(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.

(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.

(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.

(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.

(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.

(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

Sole and Joint Custody

Sole custody means that one parent has the authority to make the important decisions which affect the welfare of the child. 

Joint custody can mean many things. Generally, joint custody is broken down into two categories, joint legal and joint physical custody.

Joint legal custody means that the parties share the authority to make important decisions which affect the welfare of the child.  “Important decisions” include such things as medical care and where the child should attend school.  If the joint legal custodians cannot agree on “important decisions”, the matter must be brought before the court to decide. 

Joint physical custody simply means that the minor child shall reside with each of the parties for some of the time.  Contrary to popular belief, it does not necessarily mean that the child will reside with each of the parties half of the time.  Joint custodial arrangements can be anything from one parent having alternating weekends and the other parent having the balance of the time with the child, to one parent having the child for the school year and the other parent having the child during the summer, to the parties alternating weeks, one week on, one week off. 

In child custody disputes between parents, the parents are advised of joint custody and upon the request of either parent, the Court shall consider it.  Courts consider the following in determining whether joint or sole custody shall be awarded:

(a) The “best interests” factors outlined above; and

(b) Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

(c) If the parents agree on joint custody, the court shall award joint custody unless the court determines on the record, based upon clear and convincing evidence that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.

(d) If the court awards joint custody, the court may include in its award a statement regarding when the child shall reside with each parent, or may provide that physical custody be shared by the parents in a manner to assure the child continuing contact with both parents.

(4) During the time a child resides with a parent, that parent shall decide all routine matters concerning the child.

Modification of Custody

Once custody has been determined, it can only be modified based on a change of circumstances.  Further, it must be something more than the normal life changes (both good and bad) that occur during the life of a child; there must be at least some evidence that the material changes have had or will almost certainly have an effect on the child. 

If no established custodial environment exists in either one or both of the parties, the court will modify custody if the preponderance of the evidence indicates that a change of circumstances exists that would warrant a change in custody.  However, if an established custodial environment exists in either one or both of the parties; a court will apply a much stricter standard and will only change custody if such is warranted by clear and convincing evidence, a very difficult thing to prove.

Loraine R. Kuhn is a skilled Michigan child custody attorney.  If you have a divorce or paternity case which involves a child custody issue, or a post-judgment custody matter, you need an attorney practiced in Michigan child custody matters.  With over 30 years’ experience handling Michigan child custody has the knowledge and skill to win your case. 

Contact Family Law Attorney, Loraine R. Kuhn at (248) 862-3933 to schedule a free initial consultation on any matter related to all Family Law Practice Areas.

Please visit the Family Law Practice Area page to see a full list of practice areas Loraine R. Kuhn specializes in. You will find helpful descriptions of each practice area, how they pertain to Michigan Family Laws, and how Loraine can assist you as your Oakland County attorney.

30500 Northwestern Highway, Ste. 200 Farmington Hills, MI 48334-3177