Child Custody & Visitation
Divorce is a difficult process, and it can often be hard on children. Issues surrounding custody, child support, visitation, and parenting are often contentious, and where these are not well-managed they can have long-lasting effects on the children.
At Meeker Law, we understand that a parent’s first duty is to their child, and we are prepared to do our part in ensuring that the best interests of your child are protected. Often, issues relating to child custody and visitation will be surrounded by a fog of emotion that can make it difficult to reach a beneficial understanding.
However, our experienced Metro-Detroit family law attorney has worked in these positions with numerous clients and understands how to help you find the compromise or resolution that protects your interests and preserves the welfare of your child.
If you are dealing with child custody or parenting time disputes in your divorce process, and your parental rights are being threatened, you can trust Meeker Law to step into the process on your behalf and help foster a positive resolution. Start by scheduling a free, no-obligation phone consultation at (586) 838-8704 with our attorney to communicate your goals and interests, and learn about the options available to you.
“I hired Alicia after I had a horrible experience with my prior attorney, who cost me a fortune to accomplish nothing. Alicia was thorough, HONEST, and I felt she genuinely cared about myself and my children. I cannot thank Alicia enough for her amazing representation and wish I would have started with her from the beginning. It would have saved me a ton of money and turmoil”
Child custody under Michigan law
Under Michigan law, child custody is considered a very important issue to be resolved during the divorce process. The state puts a high premium on ensuring the welfare of children, and this is why it provides for specialized services, such as the Friend of the Court, to advise on and protect the best interests of the child.
Even during the course of a court-supervised divorce process, the court will be primarily concerned with the best interests of the child. The judge will in turn scrutinize and question all arrangements made by the spouses in order to ensure they protect the welfare of the child.
Child custody is not just an English term under Michigan law though. It is a legal term that includes both physical and legal custody. Physical custody refers to the decision as to which parent will have the child live with them the majority of the time. You may often see this being referred to as “primary residence”, and the parent with physical custody being referred to as the “primary physical custodian”.
Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to which parent has the right to make important decisions relating to the upbringing and welfare of the child. The parent with legal custody has the primary responsibility to decide issues relating to religious upbringing, education, health, and other decisions that have legal implications.
Custody may also be joint or sole. Sole custody, as the name implies, is when a single parent is allowed to have the child primarily live with them, and also take legal decisions relating to the child. Joint custody is when both spouses share custody of the child Michigan courts typically consider it in the best interests of the child for both parents to have joint custody. However, joint custody may not be a good fit for certain cases, particularly where both parents are unable to agree on how best to raise the child. In cases where joint custody is impracticable, the court will award sole custody.
In these circumstances, a parent may be unfairly put at a disadvantage by untruths or misrepresentations by the other party, or may simply be unable to make their voice heard. This is where our Michigan child custody lawyer at Meeker Law comes in. We assist in making the position of our client, and the advantage in it, clear before the judge. We aim to help clients avoid an acrimonious tussle over minor details and focus on the goal of protecting the welfare and future of the child.
Whether this is accomplished through alternative dispute settlement procedures such as mediation, arbitration, collaborative divorce, and parenting agreements or through the court-supervised process, our attorneys can help.
Metro Detroit family law attorney
At Meeker Law, our job is to help make your side of the story heard and present to how the child’s best interests align with your own. We can assist in making this clear through negotiations concerning parenting agreements and other procedures that help you reach a positive resolution.
In addition to decisions on child custody, it will also be necessary to make arrangements relating to visitation and parenting time. Since it is generally in a child’s best interests to have the care and affection of both parents, the non-custodial parent will usually have visitation and parenting time rights.
The rules relating to parenting time in Michigan are contained in the Parenting Time Guidelines. These rules help parents understand how these arrangements should function and assist them in crafting their own parenting schedule.
We are experienced at negotiating parenting arrangements, consisting of both traditional and non-traditional visitation schedules. This may include Skype and FaceTime calls, as well as the weekend, summer, or other periodic physical arrangements that meet your needs.
Sometimes, the court will need to determine parenting time, especially when both parents are unable to come to an agreement. Some of the factors that the court will consider in making its decision will include:
- The age of the child
- Distance between where parents live
- The custodial status of each parent
- Any history of violence and abuse
We find that messages can get mixed up when the court is considering these factors, and sometimes, one parent may be unfairly maligned before the judge. It is our responsibility to stand up for you in these circumstances and ensure that your right to fair parenting time and the companionship of your child is not unfairly taken away.
People and families change. Just as the societies they live in, they do not remain static and experience differing changes in circumstances. Courts are also aware of this, and this is why the provision is made for the possibility of post-judgment modifications.
Changing circumstances may make the initial court order impracticable or downright impossible. For instance, one parent may have to relocate to a new state or even move out of the country, they could suffer a job loss or there may simply be changes in the needs of the child.
In all of these circumstances, it may become necessary to secure a modification of the original court order. Judgments relating to child custody and parenting time can be modified at any time up to when the child turns 18.
However, in order to secure a modification, the requesting party must show the court that there has been a change in circumstances or proper cause that warrants the modification. Our attorneys advise on and advocate on behalf of our clients in relation to modifications of child custody, visitation, and parenting time orders.
Reach out to an experienced family law attorney today
Preserving the welfare of your child and protecting their best interests starts with consulting with a compassionate, skilled, and experienced attorney who can advocate strongly on your behalf. Schedule a free phone consultation today.