Michigan Child Custody Lawyers
Sterling Heights attorneys work to negotiate effective parenting plans
Creating a safe, supportive environment for the children should always be the top property when parents divorce or end a nonmarital relationship. Ideally, parents will put their differences aside and cooperate to establish child custody and visitation arrangements that benefit everyone involved. However, this is not always the case. You might find that developing an acceptable parenting plan requires extensive negotiation, and possibly mediation or litigation. At Goetting Corrado Law Group, P.C. in Sterling Heights, we are experienced Michigan family law attorneys who guide Macomb and Oakland County clients on issues relating to legal authority, residence and parenting time schedules so that they and their children can start the next phase of their lives on a solid foundation.
Legal and physical custody
There are two elements to Michigan custody orders: legal and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the authority that parents have to make decisions regarding their children’s education, religion, medical treatment and other important matters. Physical custody is the term used to describe the child’s living arrangements and the parenting time schedule. Often, legal custody is granted jointly so that both parents can participate in key choices involving their son or daughter. Depending on the circumstances, physical custody could be granted to one parent with the other having visitation rights. Even in a joint physical custody arrangement, it might be best for the youth to live primarily within one residence. Whether you’re going through a divorce or ending a nonmarital relationship with your co-parent, we work closely with you to develop a proposed parenting plan that best suits your child’s needs.
Common factors in child custody cases
You and your co-parent may be able to work out custody and parenting time arrangements for your children outside of court. If not, Michigan law calls for courts to make custody and visitation determinations based on what is in the child’s best interests. Anything that the judge deems to be pertinent can be considered along with the following statutory factors:
- 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 their 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
- The moral fitness of the parties involved
- Mental and physical health of the parties involved
- Home, school and community record of the child
- The reasonable preference of the child
- The willingness and ability of each party 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
When you work with an experienced family attorney at our firm, we will advise on which of these considerations might be most important in your case, as well as other factors that could affect the judge’s determination.
Grandparent custody and visitation
Parents typically have the right to decide who spends time with their minor children, but there can be circumstances where grandparents are awarded visitation rights. There is a two-part analysis that occurs when grandparents petition for visitation over the objection of their grandchild’s parent(s). First, one of the following situations must apply:
- The grandparent has served as a primary caregiver for the child in the past year
- The child was born out of wedlock and their parents do not live together
- The child’s parents have divorced, separated or sought an annulment or are intending to do so
- The child does not live with their parents
Should one or more of those factors be satisfied, the judge then reviews whether issuing an order requiring grandparenting time would be in the youth’s best interests. In cases involving unfit or absent parents, grandparents might be able to seek custody. To obtain custody, grandparents must show by clear and convincing evidence that maintaining parental custody would present a substantial risk to the child.
How guardianship differs from custody
A guardianship allows an adult to take legal responsibility for a child without stripping the custody rights from the child’s parents. This might be appropriate when a parent is absent for an extended time or is suffering from a medical or substance abuse problem. Parents might have other reasons to consent to the guardianship, which must be approved by the Probate Court. You have the option to petition for a full guardianship or one that is limited to a certain timeframe.
Contact a Michigan child custody attorney for a free consultation
Goetting Corrado Law Group, P.C. represents parents in child custody and visitation matters throughout Macomb and Oakland Counties, as well as other Michigan locations. Please call 586-544-7825 or contact us online to make an appointment for a free consultation. Our office is in Sterling Heights.