What Exactly Is 50/50 Child Custody in Michigan?

If you are in the process of separating or divorcing from your child’s parent, you may be wondering how custody works. Specifically, you may also have heard about 50/50 custody, but you may not know what that means and whether it is the right option for you.

To begin with, there are two categories for custody in Michigan, legal custody and physical custody. If parents have joining legal custody, it means that they have the right to determine what happens with a child in a range of areas, including schooling, medical care, child care, and other important issues. Most of the time, parents have joint legal custody and are expected to make those important decisions jointly, in agreement with each other.

The second category for custody, physical custody, is a different matter. It refers to where the children will actually live and can lead to a variety of logistical challenges. That’s usually where the term 50/50 custody comes in to play. It can get complicated and it’s always a good idea to talk to an experienced Michigan divorce attorney to get some advice. Someone that says they want 50/50 custody are referring to where the child lives, or physical custody.

How Does 50/50 Custody Work?

Your best strategy on getting shared custody, or 50/50 custody as people call it, is to reach an agreement. If you are asking a court for shared custody, you will need to review the best interest of the child factors and see if it is likely that a court would order that custody arrangement based on your particular situation. There is no law requiring the court to do shared custody, but it is possible given the right circumstances to get a shared custody arrangement. In theory, the shared custody arrangement would allow both parents to continue to nurture their relationship with their children. But how exactly does this model work on a practical level and how can it be integrated into the parents’ lives?

The specifics are based on the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline. They will also depend on the parents’ careers and work schedules as well as on the ages of the children.

The most straightforward schedule when contemplating a 50/50 parenting time agreement, is the alternate week schedule, where the children spend one week with one parent and the next week with the other. The parents should decide on a regular time and day when they’ll move the children from one home to the other. They need to decide which day of the week is the day that they will exchange the children.

An alternative 50/50 option would allow each parent a two-day visit and then a five-day visit. These visits are alternated throughout the year. So two nights with father, then five nights with the mother, then alternate so that each parent has half the time with the children.

Uneven Schedules

Depending on the parents’ work schedules, the 50/50 model might be difficult to implement. In that case, a more uneven time distribution might work better. This could end up being a 60/40, a 70/30, or even an 80/20 model.

In this situation, the parent who has the children for longer periods of time would be considered the custodial parent, while the other parent would be the non-custodial parent. You may want to talk with a Michigan child custody attorney before you agree to such a solution. Also, remember that the number of overnights you have with the children impacts how much child support you pay.

There are several options. A common 60/40 schedule, for example, would allow the non-custodial parent to spend every extended weekend with their children. In a 70/30 schedule, they would spend every weekend plus an evening with their children. There is also the “every other weekend” option, which would be an 80/20 schedule. Of course, these are just examples. Other possibilities can be arranged as well.

However, no matter which schedule is selected, it is crucial that it be designed in such a way that it is likely to work for both parents. Your court order will clearly document how many overnight visits each parent has per year. Even if the agreement is not very specific, or lacks detail, the child support order requires you to put in writing how many overnights per year you have with the children. This is essential for establishing child support as well as for determining who can take any tax credits.

Could the Children Be Split up?

Split custody is not very common. This would be an arrangement where two children live in different houses, or where the two (or more) children follow different parenting time schedules from each other. However, it can happen under certain circumstances, such as when neither of the parents can handle all the children at once, when there are problems among the children, or if a child has special needs.

If it happens, one or more of the children will stay with one parent while one or more will stay with the other parent during the week. On weekends, all the children alternate between staying with one parent on one weekend and then with the other parent on the next. Ideally, all the brothers and sisters are able to spend quality time together and continue to bond with each other. Split custody is not something that a court would recommend, but it can be done by agreement.

How Is Child Support Handled With 50/50 Child Custody?

Some people may think that child support won’t have to be paid in a 50/50 child custody arrangement. This may or may not be true. Each parent owes it to their children to support them. The specifics are based on the Michigan Child Support Formula, which in turn is based on the parents’ income and on how many overnights the children spend with each parent. An example of how this affects child support is the following: both parents have the same income, and both parents have 50/50 custody and parenting time.

In that scenario, because both the incomes and the custody are equal, neither parent owes any child support. However, if you make more income than the other parent does, and you have half the overnights with your children, you would still owe child support, although it would be greatly reduced because of the shared custody arrangement.

Who Gets the Tax Credits With 50/50 Custody?

According to the IRS, there is a custodial and a non-custodial parent. They don’t acknowledge joint custody. So who gets the tax credit in a 50/50 custody situation?

Generally, it would be the custodial parent, the one who has the majority of custody time, which would be 183 days a year or more. It should also be the parent who would actually benefit from the tax credit. If one of the parents makes too much money to claim it, the other parent should claim it. It also might be a good idea to discuss this with an experienced child custody attorney to avoid any problems. You will want to have an agreement on this, and put in your court order who will claim the exemptions or credits for tax purposes.

To find such an attorney, call ADAM at 248-356-2326, or email us at adamlawinfo@bmpclaw.net .