Child Custody & Paternity Put Our Experience to Work for You & Your Family

Sterling Heights Child Custody and Paternity Lawyers

Backed by years of experience, the attorneys at our firm offer the compassionate legal support you deserve as you go through a child custody or paternity issue. From your initial consultation to the conclusion of your case, we will work side by side with you every step of the way. We understand that a family law issue can be tremendously overwhelming; however, you do not have to go through this process alone. We are here for you and your family.

Different Types of Child Custody

People often think about custody in terms of legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody means having the right to make important decisions about your children, such as where they go to school, what religion they practice, as well as major medical decisions. Physical custody refers to the child's living arrangements or where the child will reside.

How Is Custody Determined?

You and your co-parent may be able to work out custody and parenting time for your children outside of court if you would like. If you are not able to come up with an agreement, the court will decide custody and parenting time based on what is known as the best interests of the child. There are 12 best interests factors the court will consider before making its determination. These factors are as follows:

  • Love, affection, and other emotional ties that exist between the parties involved and the child
  • 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/her religion or creed
  • Capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining this
  • Permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  • Moral fitness of the parties involved
  • Mental and physical health of the parties involved
  • Home, school, and community record of the child
  • Reasonable preference of the child
  • 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
  • History of domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child

Modifying a Child Custody Order

The court will not modify a custody arrangement unless the party asking for the change shows there is either proper cause or a change of circumstances to consider the change. Proper cause or a change of circumstances is more significant than a typical life change. It must be something that has a big impact on the child. Only after proper cause or a change of circumstances is shown can the court reconsider what custody arrangements would be in the best interests of the child.

How to Establish Paternity

Before awarding custody to a father, paternity may need to be established. Unmarried parents can establish paternity voluntarily by agreeing to name the father of the child when it is born. Additionally, they could also ask the local family court to help establish paternity for them. This typically involves a DNA paternity test.

Parenting Time

A parenting time schedule is generated to ensure both parents can spend adequate time with their child. If possible, you and your ex-spouse can draft this together. Otherwise, you will need assistance from the court. If a court orders specific parenting time, all the details are included in the court order. It may work best to have a specific parenting time schedule if you and the other parent cannot easily talk to one another or agree on a parenting time schedule. Here are some factors that may impact a parenting schedule:

• Age of the child

• Parents’ schedules

• Distance between the parent’s residences

Many family courts have a standard parenting time schedule. A standard parenting time schedule normally gives parents alternating weeks and/or weekends. Holidays are divided between the parents and each parent will swap custody each year for major holidays.

Contact our office online or call us at (586) 554-2200 to learn more about our child custody and paternity services.

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  • “Talia and the Goetting Corrado Law Group helped me with a challenging custody case for several years”

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q:What is the difference between legal custody and physical custody?

    A:People often think about custody in terms of “legal” custody and “physical” custody. Legal custody means having the right to make important decisions about your children, such as where they go to school, what religion they practice, and major medical decisions. Physical custody refers to the children's living arrangements.

  • Q:What is a parenting time schedule?

    A:A parenting time schedule tells when the children spend time with each parent. If a court order says “reasonable” parenting time, parents must work out the specific dates, times, and other conditions together. The children’s ages, how far apart the parents live and the parents' schedules can affect a parenting time schedule. If a court orders specific parenting time, all the details are included in the court order. It may work best to have a specific parenting time schedule if you and the other parent can’t easily talk to one another or agree on a parenting time schedule. Many family courts have a standard parenting time schedule. A standard parenting time schedule normally gives parents alternating weeks and/or weekends. Holidays are split between the parents, and they switch each year. For example, if this year the mom has the children for Christmas Eve and the dad has the children for Christmas Day, next year the dad will have Christmas Eve and the mom will have Christmas Day.

  • Q:How is custody or parenting time determined?

    A:You and your child’s other parent may be able to work out custody and parenting time for your children. If you aren’t able to agree, the court will decide custody and parenting time based on “the best interests of the child.” There are 12 best interests factors the court looks at to make its determination.

  • Q:What are the 12 best interest factors?

    A:This legal test requires the court to consider these 12 factors:
    Factor (a): The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;
    Factor (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;
    Factor (c): The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care or other remedial care recognized under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;
    Factor (d): The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
    Factor (e): The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
    Factor (f): The moral fitness of the parties involved;
    Factor (g): The mental and physical health of the parties involved;
    Factor (h): The home, school, and community record of the child;
    Factor (i): The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be old enough to express a preference;
    Factor (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 (assuming a relationship with each parent is good for the child);
    Factor (k): Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child;
    Factor (l): Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

  • Q:Can I change the current custody order?

    A:When changing an order, a court makes custody decisions differently than when making the first custody order. The court won’t change the custody arrangements unless the party asking for the change shows there is either "proper cause" or a "change of circumstances" to consider the change. This is sometimes called a threshold.
    Proper cause or a change of circumstances is more significant than normal life changes. It must be something that has a big impact on the child. Only after proper cause or a change of circumstances is shown can the court reconsider what custody arrangements are in the best interests of the child.

  • Q:What evidence do I need to change custody?

    A:If the court finds there is proper cause or a change or circumstances to reconsider the best interests factors, it must still look at whether an established custodial environment exists.
    If the court finds an established custodial environment, a higher standard of proof is needed to change that environment. The person wanting the change will have to meet that higher standard of proof. To change custody, the evidence must be clear and convincing that the change is in the best interests of the child.

  • Q:What factors does the court look at to change a parenting time order?

    A:To decide parenting time, the court uses the 12 best interests of the child factors. The court also uses these other factors to decide how often each parent has parenting time, how long visits are, and whether the parenting time is supervised:
    Factor (a): Any special needs of the child;
    Factor (b): Whether the child is nursing;
    Factor (c): Whether abuse or neglect of a child during parenting time is likely;
    Factor (d): Whether abuse or neglect of a parent during parenting time is likely;
    Factor (e): The inconvenience and impact on the child of traveling for parenting time;
    Factor (f): Whether a parent is reasonably likely to exercise parenting time;
    Factor (g): Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time;
    Factor (h): 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;
    Factor (i): Any other relevant factors.

What You Can Expect

Working With Goetting & Corrado Law Group, P.C.
  • Advocates for Your Family's Best Interests
  • Extensive Courtroom Experience
  • Compassionate Approach to Every Case
  • Exclusively Focused on Family Law & Adoption Matters