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Understanding Legal Custody, Physical Custody And Visitation In Michigan

When parents divorce, Michigan law recognizes both physical and legal custody of their minor children (generally, those under age eighteen). Physical custody means simply that the child lives with you, while legal custody gives you the right and responsibility to make important life decisions regarding the child’s welfare, education, medical treatment and the like.

Both legal or physical custody can be either “joint” (shared) or sole. In many cases, couples share legal custody; that is, they both have a say in the child’s upbringing, even if only one has sole physical custody. This parent is called the “custodial” parent.

In sole custody cases, the non-custodial parent is ordinarily entitled to reasonable visitation rights. Whether their roles are custodial or non-custodial, the family law attorneys at Lucido & Manzella encourage our clients to work toward a voluntary visitation schedule that works well for them as well as their former spouses and, most importantly, their child.

Unfortunately, divorce can both result from and breed strong emotional reactions, and these can make it impossible for the parties to agree on visitation. In this case, the non-custodial parent can ask the court to set a schedule that the custodial parent must then honor.

Visitation can be denied, but only for good cause, such as the non-custodial parent’s history of abuse or neglect of this or other children. And, although the court has significant leeway in crafting a visitation schedule, judges in Macomb County typically default to a standard schedule, absent considerations that would make this schedule impractical. The standard schedule for a noncustodial parent normally includes alternate weekends and one weekday evening, with recognized secular and religious holidays generally split between the parents.

In addition, before it will enter a final divorce judgment, the Macomb County Family Court requires that the office of the “Friend of the Court” make recommendations as to all contested issues concerning minor children, including a recommended visitation schedule.

The knowledgeable and experienced family law attorneys at Lucido & Manzella know that contending with contested custody, visitation and related issues can be a stressful experience. Don’t go in alone – call us today to schedule an initial consultation at (586) 842-0198.