Parents who put off filing for divorce out of fear that they will no longer be as active of a parent are usually doing little more than dragging out a bad situation. This only makes matters worse for everyone in the long run. Having a better understanding of Michigan family law and how it applies to child custody matters can help ease some of these worries.
There are actually two types of custody — physical and legal. People are usually most familiar with the concept of physical custody. This covers which parent a child lives with, at what times and when they see their other parent. Legal custody refers to decision making regarding serious matters, including religious upbringing, medical decisions and education.
Parents often share joint legal custody, meaning that they both have the right to actively make decisions about how their child is raised. In some situations, parents also share joint physical custody. This is an increasingly popular approach that does away with the idea of one parent holding primary custody and the other having visitation rights. Instead, children spend roughly equal amounts of time living with each parent. Although there is some debate over the effectiveness of joint custody, proponents point out that maintaining open access to both parents can lessen the emotional impact of divorce.
When deciding how to handle custody, parents should always consider what is in their child’s best interests rather than their own. This means taking into account a number of factors, including the child’s wishes, religious or cultural needs and even parental mental health or drug use. Some Michigan parents will be able to use this information to create an agreeable custody arrangement, while others will need to go before a family law judge who will have the final say on the matter.