Grand Rapids, Michigan Child Custody Attorneys
Children are the center of their parents’ lives, which is why issues related to child custody can be so stressful. Disputes about the residential environment and major care-related decisions are common as parents seek to maintain strong, healthy bonds with their children. Even where they can agree on the primary issues, it can be difficult to understand Michigan’s complex laws on child custody. Plus, there are other issues closely linked to custodial matters, including parenting time, modifications of custody, and what to do if one parent wants to move.
Our lawyers at the Van Den Heuvel Law Office know that child custody cases are not easy for parents, which is why our first priority is to gain your trust. We draw from extensive experience and knowledge of Michigan law in fighting for your rights, so you can focus on your relationship with your child. Our attorneys have been representing clients in Grand Rapids and throughout Western Michigan for more than 27 years, and you can rely on our child custody legal team.
Michigan Law on Child Custody Determinations
Before digging into how a court makes decisions regarding child custody, it is important to get an overview of the basic concepts in these cases. The term “custody” applies to different arrangements on care and residence of a minor child, including:
- Sole Versus Joint Custody: When one parent is the primary caregiver and has the right to make important life decisions for the child, the arrangement is considered full or sole custody.
If the child’s parents share authority in decision-making on major issues involving the child’s life, they have joint custody. This arrangement is preferred under Michigan law, which recognizes that it is in the child’s best interest to have a healthy relationship with both parents.
- Physical and Legal Custody: The parent with whom the child resides has physical custody of him or her, and there may be a shared custodial arrangement if the child splits time between the parents’ homes. It is different from legal custody, which refers to the person who has primary authority over the child’s education, health and well-being, religion, and similar areas.
Michigan’s Best Interests Standard for Child Custody
Michigan law requires a court to put the child’s best interests first when making decisions on child custody. There are 12 factors a judge will apply in these cases, ranging from:
- The relationship and bond the child has with each parent;
- Stability, continuity, and permanence of the living environment;
- The existence of any domestic violence; and,
- Several other factors designated by law.
Note that child custody cases also involve determinations on parenting time for the non-custodial parent, otherwise known as visitation. The schedule may be quite flexible or restrictive as necessary to support the child’s best interests.
Discuss Child Custody Issues with a Dedicated Grand Rapids, MI Lawyer
If you have questions or concerns about a child custody case in Michigan, it is critical to consult with an experienced attorney right away. Please contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office at 616-698-0000 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.