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Do you know basic child custody terminology?

Are you up-to-date on child custody rules and regulations in the state of Michigan? If you do not feel fully prepared to pursue a child custody proceeding in the midst of your divorce, you are not alone. The legal process required to assign custody and divvy up parenting time can seem daunting to even the most confident parent. The good news: The state of Michigan has already done a lot of the work for you.

A custody guideline is published by Michigan courts to help parents navigate the child custody system. If you are just starting out on your legal journey, you may not even know the basic definitions related to child custody. For example, did you know that the state does not have a formal definition of "sole custody?" Rather, this term is generally informally applied when a parent receives exclusive physical and legal custody. The other parent may still be given visitation even if sole custody is awarded.

Parents can be awarded physical custody, which means that the child spends time living in their homes. Another type of custody -- legal custody -- allows a parent to make decisions about medical care, education, religious upbringing and other day-to-day topics. Both types of custody can be split or awarded entirely to one parent; the division of custody generally depends on the family's individual situation.

Ultimately, your child custody decision should be crafted to serve the best interests of the child. That does not mean that your rights are entirely discounted, however. Both parents deserve the right to participate in their child's lives; an experienced legal team can promote those interests throughout the child custody negotiation process.

Source: Friend of the Court Bureau/State Court Administrative Office, Michigan Supreme Court, "Michigan Custody Guideline" Oct. 31, 2014

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