When parents in Michigan have parted ways as a couple and are debating child custody, it is important to understand the different types of custody that the courts can decide upon and how the best interests of the child will factor in. When it is determined that joint custody is best, parents should know that there are two different types of joint custody. As the case moves forward, these issues should be weighed. This is true whether the parents can amicably discuss the case and negotiate, if the case is contentious and rife with dispute and anywhere in between.
Either parent can ask the court to consider ordering joint custody. When the couple agrees to this, the court must order that there be joint custody except in cases in which it does not serve the child's best interests. When the judge decides, the reasons must be stated on the record. There does not need to be a request from the parents for the judge to consider joint custody. The parents' ability to cooperate and come to a consensus on the child's best interests are paramount in this decision.
The two kinds of joint custody are joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Joint legal custody gives the parents shared authority to make decisions for the child. The amount of time the child spends with each parent has no bearing on this. With joint physical custody, there will be designated times at which the parents will each have the child. This does not mean there will be equal rights to make decisions unless joint legal custody was ordered as well. For example, if a parent has physical custody at certain intervals like the summer and holidays, the other parent might have physical custody at other intervals, like during the school year. For joint physical custody, there will generally be a statement from the court as to when the child will live with each parent. The parent who has custody at the time will make basic and emergency decisions for the child.
Regardless of the relationship between the parents and how amicable or contentious it may be, the child and his or her well-being takes precedence. When there is a disagreement about child custody or any other issue related to family law, parents in Michigan should know their child custody options.