Robert S. Menders Provides Skilled and Caring Child Custody Counsel.
What Every Parent Should Do Before Starting the Divorce Process
In Michigan, the parents of minor children need to come up with a parenting plan in order to have a plan of action when parenting disputes arise between the parties. Although this can be done by the court, arriving at an agreed-upon plan will enable the parents to have more input into the day-to-day care of their children. This plan is approved and entered by the judge to become an official court document. By negotiating these points before the matter is submitted to the court, the parents have more of an opportunity to control the circumstances under which they raise their child.
It is important to gather all relevant information prior to going to court, as well as becoming familiar with the applicable laws that will govern the court’s decisions. The judge that determines custody issues, including who gets physical custody, whether it is partial or full, who has legal custody, and other miscellaneous issues. These matters will be determined on the evidence that the parties present, so it is critical to make sure that you have support for each of the points that you want to make at trial.
When you begin to contemplate divorce and child custody issues, it is important to collect the pertinent information upon which all the court’s judgments will be based. Keeping a journal is a good way to record important details. Maintaining paper files and electronic logs are another important way of preserving critical evidence.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING THE CUSTODY PROCEEDING
Early in the divorce process, a Friend of the Court will make some initial custody decisions. This initial determination is to provide for financial support and structure for the child(ren) during the remainder of the custody and divorce proceedings. If the parties are unable to arrive at an amicable, or at least consensual, custody plan, then the matter goes to the court for decision after a trial. The judge will make the ultimate decision based upon the best interests of the child(ren) and the presented evidence. In Michigan, this is based upon twelve points of consideration, which are:
- The nature of the bonds that exist between the child and each of the parents;
- The ability and willingness of each parent to support the child with the provision of affection and guidance, as well as dedication towards the advancement of educational and spiritual learning;
- The ability and willingness of each parent to provide the basic necessities, including food, shelter, clothing, and ongoing care;
- Any evidence concerning a stable living environment, the facts surrounding who provided the home and how long the child resided there, and how advantageous it would be to maintain the environment;
- The likelihood of the current or potential home to remain the same going forward;
- The moral fitness of each parent;
- The health of each parent, including emotional, psychological, and physical;
- How the child has done in the proposed environment, considering school record, community involvement, and emotional and physical impact of the home situation;
- The expressed preference of the child, as long as the judge determines that the child is of a sufficient age and mental capacity to provide a reasonable opinion;
- The capacity and disposition of each parent to nurture a meaningful and ongoing relationship with the other parent;
- Any incidence of domestic violence in the parents’ past; and
- Other factors that the judge determines to be relevant (this is a catch-all of sorts).
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THERE ARE STILL ISSUES THAT ARISE AFTER THE CUSTODY CASE HAS CLOSED
After the court process has concluded and the custody order has been entered, there may be a need to request a change in custody or other modifications. These changes need to be requested through a formal application and must be based upon the best interest of the child. These modifications may be for changed physical or legal custody, a request for an increase or decrease in child support, changes to visitation, requests for moves more than 100 miles away from the residence of the custodial parent or out of the State of Michigan, or changes to the last name of the child.
THE LAW OFFICE OF ROBERT S. MENDERS WILL GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE CUSTODY PROCESS
Determining who will have physical custody of the children and who will make the decisions concerning their educational, spiritual, and social upbringing are among the most contentious aspects of the separation of parents. While the best interests of the children are the guiding principles of the custody process, the parents can make important choices as part of the parenting plan, as long as the judge considers the decisions reasonable. The Law Office of Robert S. Menders has many years of experience in developing legal strategies in order to satisfy the needs of the client and his or her family. We will work hard to meet all of your goals. To schedule a free consultation in which to discuss your case, please call us at (248) 474-1550. We will discuss your rights and determine the legal path that works best for you, without obligation.
Child Custody and Parenting Time
Child Custody is comprised of two parts; physical custody-literally which parent has primary responsibility for the daily care of the minor child, and Legal Custody-which is the right to be involved relative to 3 areas of the child or children’s development as they relate to education, physical health, and religious practices. Child custody is typical the largest source of litigation in Divorce cases, as it affects literally every remaining aspect of the client’s case. The party who has primary physical custody is called the “custodial parent,’ and the other is referred to as the “non-custodial parent.”
Parenting Time or Visitation refers to the time spent with the non-custodial parent is typical one of two types; “reasonable”parenting time, wherein the parties who have a history of getting along fairly well, can talk and work out their own schedules for parenting time, including overnights, holidays, vacations, family functions, etc. In cases where there if bitterness and the parties to the divorce either do not communicate well, or not at all, “specific parenting time” is appropriate, wherein the parties utilize a specific schedule for all parenting time, as well as regular phone contact. This specific schedule is recited in both Orders and the final Judgment of Divorce and must be obeyed by Order of the Court. Failure to so comply risks harsh proceedings for noncompliance called Show Cause Orders, which can result in stiff fines and costs.
LEGAL CUSTODY: Means the right to make decisions about the child’s life like where the child will go to school or what kind of medical treatment the child will have.
PHYSICAL CUSTODY: Means the right to have the child live with you. When the judge gives sole custody to one parent, the judge means that this parent has both legal and physical custody of the child and that the other parent does not have the legal right to make decisions about the child’s life or to have the child live with him or her.
JOINT CUSTODY: Can mean many different things. Sometimes it means that the parents share legal custody but only one parent has physical custody. It can mean that the parents share both legal and physical custody of the child. It can mean that one parent has legal custody but both parents share physical custody.
PARENTING TIME: Judges almost always order some kind of parenting time after a divorce or at the request of the parent who does not have custody in the case of unmarried parents.
SPECIFIC PARENTING TIME: This is when the judge says in writing exactly when, how, and/or where parenting time will happen.