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How Do Michigan Courts Determine Custody and Parenting Time?

If you are in the process of getting divorced or having problems with custody and parenting time, you will need attorneys who are willing to fight for you and your family. Further, you should have divorce attorneys who will consider your unique situation and strive to achieve your personal goals. This is exactly what you can expect from us at McDonald Pierangeli Macfarlane, PLLC. Our attorneys have represented clients in Kent County and the surrounding area in complex divorce and custody cases. In us, you have a team prepared to go to trial if it means getting the results you need. Whether agreeing upon a settlement or going to trial, our team of attorneys zealously advocate for our clients.

When determining which parent will have custody, Michigan courts look to whether there is an established custodial environment. The existence of an established custodial environment depends on a custodial relationship of a significant duration in which a child is provided the parental care, discipline, love, guidance, and attention appropriate to the child’s age and individual needs. It is an environment in both the physical and psychological sense in which the relationship between the custodian and the child is marked by qualities of security, stability, and permanence.

Once the court determines whether an established custodial environment exists, the court analyzes the best interest factors of the child. These include but are not limited to:

  • Emotional ties
  • The capacity to love, care and educate the child
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age
  • 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
  • History of domestic violence

Evaluation of 12 best interest factors depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Custody is not awarded based on which parent “scores” the most points. The weight to be given any factor is ultimately left to the court’s discretion.

When determining a child’s parenting time, the court analyzes the best interest factors and may also consider other additional factors such as:

  • The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child
  • The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time
  • The burdensome impact on the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time
  • Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
  • The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.

Judges have a great deal of leeway when deciding whether to award sole or joint custody and setting parenting time and visitation schedules. It is crucial that you have a family law attorney to persuasively present your argument and help you secure the most favorable arrangement possible. Your financial security depends on it.

Discuss Matters With A Family Law Lawyer Today

Whether you are considering a divorce or are having problems with custody and parenting time, reach out to McDonald Pierangeli Macfarlane, PLLC for skillful counsel. Contact us to schedule an initial consultation. Call our Grand Rapids office at 616-426-9609 or send us an email today.