Quality Legal Assistance From Our Grand Rapids Child Custody Attorney
As parents, we deal with numerous responsibilities on a daily basis to ensure the safety, health, and emotional well being of our children. When it comes to disputes involving child custody, it is often unthinkable to imagine that you would not be there to provide the care, love, and support your children need to thrive and develop. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, our experienced family law attorneys understand how heart wrenching it can be to face losing custody of your children, as well as how these types of decisions can impact both your current and future relationship with your child. When it comes to handling these types of sensitive and potentially volatile situations, we provide the compassionate, aggressive legal representation you need to ensure you and your loved ones’ rights and interests are protected.
Your Rights Concerning Child Custody
In custody arrangements within the court system, the parents of the child or children involved have the right to decide themselves on a custody arrangement. In the event a decision cannot be reached between the parties, a judge will decide for them, based on the evidence in the case. Under the Michigan Child Custody Guidelines, there are two main classifications of child custody you may be entitled to:
- Sole custody, in which primary custody is awarded to one parent;
- Joint custody, in which both parents cooperate and share in providing for the child’s custody.
Joint custody may involve either legal custody, in which both parents share in making decisions on issues such as health, education, and religious upbringing for the child, and/or it may involve actual physical custody, in which the child resides with both parents at differing times throughout the year. Physical custody concerns the day to day living of the child, what he eats, when she sleeps, etc.
No matter the custody you share, there must always be either Joint or sole physical custody and joint or sole legal custody assigned to the parties.
Defending Your Right To Child Custody
When it comes to defending your child custody rights, it is important to be aware of the factors the court considers when making a ruling in these types of cases. Under the Michigan Child Custody Act, in any custody dispute involving the parents, third parties, such as grandparents, or outside agencies such as the Department of Social Services, the court’s primary goal is to determine the best interests of the child. In doing so, the court will consider the following factors as laid out in MCL 722.23:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- 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.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- 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.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
(For a simple explanation of each factor, see “What are the Best Interest Factors?” Page)
In any dispute, the court operates under the presumption that the child’s interests are best served by remaining with the parents, unless proved otherwise. In disputes between parents, the court will consider the actions and inactions of both parties in making a determination as to who has primary custody. In defending your rights to custody, it is often helpful to provide statements from family, friends, medical providers, clergy members, and teachers at your child’s school defending your strengths and abilities as a parent, as well as evidence showing how your child is either thriving within your care, or failing to thrive in another environment.
Legal Representation You Can Trust In Family Court Matters
When you are involved in a child custody dispute, you need a strong legal advocate to ensure your legal rights as a parent are protected. At the Van Den Heuvel Law Office, we know that the health and well-being of your child or children is your top priority. We can assist you through every aspect of your case, providing the kind of knowledgeable representation that gets results in the family court. Contact our experienced Grand Rapids family law attorney today to get the caring, compassionate legal help you deserve.