Protecting Your Parental Rights in Grand Haven
Child custody disputes are emotional and difficult. Unfortunately, many people use their children as pawns in these disputes, which is unfair to the children. If you see divorce on the horizon, then you should meet with a Grand Haven custody attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help build a case for child custody the right way, which should protect your ability to be with your children.
Types of Child Custody
Child custody has two parts—legal custody and physical custody. A parent can have one or both, and parents can share both legal and physical custody:
- Legal custody: This means a parent can make important decisions affecting their children, such as healthcare decisions and educational decisions.
- Physical custody: This refers to the parent with whom the child lives or the custodial parent. The parent without custody must pay child support to the custodial parent.
Parents can share joint custody, meaning that each parent has legal custody, or one parent can be given sole or full custody. In Michigan, joint custody is preferred, but a judge must make a decision in the best interests of the child.
The parent who is not awarded physical custody should be given “parenting time,” which used to be called visitation. The parenting schedule should layout when the noncustodial parents get to see the children.
How a Judge Decides Custody Issues
Long gone are the days when judges routinely awarded custody to mothers. Instead, the state views both mothers and fathers equally. All child custody decisions are made with a focus on what is in the child’s best interests. This test encompasses a variety of factors, including:
- Each parent’s moral fitness
- The emotional ties between parents and child
- Each parent’s physical and mental health
- Each parent’s ability to provide love, guidance, and affection to the child
- Each parent’s ability to provide medical care, clothing, food, and other goods
- How long the child has been in a custodial environment that is stable
- The child’s preference (if applicable)
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the other parent
- The permanency of each parent’s home
- The school, home, and community record of the child
- Whether there has been domestic violence in the relationship
The court can also consider any other relevant factor. To better understand how a judge will analyze your issues, you need to meet with a Grand Haven child custody attorney to assess your situation.
Child Custody Modifications
Child custody orders often need to be changed since life rarely stands still. If the current order no longer works for your child or either parent, then the judge might consider modifying it.
To request a modification, a parent must file a motion with the court. A judge will need to see that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that a change is in your child’s best interests. Often, judges are hesitant to modify orders, so you need to carefully plan your request to be successful.
Contact an Experienced Grand Haven Custody Attorney
Child custody disputes are difficult and require the right legal representation. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we have represented mothers and fathers in child custody disputes and requests for modifications.
To schedule a free consultation, please reach out to us today.