What Are the Primary Types of Custody in Michigan?

There are two primary types of child custody in the state of Michigan: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody is all about who makes the important decisions in a child’s life. These decisions include choices on health care, where to live, religious teachings, education, and social activities. Even in cases where one parent has full or 80/20 custody, the parents can still share joint legal custody, and therefore share in decision making. This is frequently the case, however it is hard to say what is typical or the usual, as that varies from county to county. In some cases, the courts will deny legal custody to the other parent if they believe that the two parents cannot get along well enough to make joint decisions for their child. It’s always about what the court believes is in the ‘best interests’ of the child.

Physical custody, meanwhile, refers to where a child lives and sleeps. It is realistic that physical custody can be shared depending on the age of the minor child and the ability of the two parents to work with each other. It is not mandatory that parents share physical custody, and is often not the case. If the two parents share equal custody, then physical custody is split 50/50. But other arrangements can be anywhere from every other weekend to half the time with the minor child. Typically, you will not see less than every other weekend after a minor child is older than one year, unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Who Usually Retains Full Custody of a Child?

In the United States, the mother usually gets full custody of a child 80% of the time. In fact, the numbers are so incredibly in favor of the mother that, for many divorce cases, it is generally just assumed that the mom will get the larger share of child custody.

We believe that this is wrong.

A father can have just as much importance in a child’s life as a mother. And, in some families, it’s reasonable to suggest that some fathers may have a more positive influence on how a child is raised than the mother would. Other than prejudices, there are not real reasons why a father cannot have a shared custody arrangement with their minor child, and they should when it’s appropriate. Keep in mind that some fathers are not looking for more than every other weekend as a parenting time schedule.

Do Any States Have Better Rates for Granting Fathers Full or 50/50 Custody of Children?

Every state has a slightly different take on the law, and every state has its own laws regarding custody and family law. As such, some states have a higher rate of dads winning custody than others. Unfortunately, Michigan is not among those states where fathers tend to get more favorable (read: equal) treatment in child custody cases. However, most cases are not “won” or “lost” but instead come down to a settlement agreement.

States which tend to see fathers treated more equally in child custody cases include Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, North Dakota, Vermont, and Virginia.

How Can a Father Hope to Retain Sole Physical Custody?

If you’re a father seeking custody of your child – whether that’s sole custody or 50/50 custody – the first thing you need to do is hire legal counsel for custody battles in Michigan. Secondly, start examining your relationship to your children and list the positive influences you have in the child’s lives.

While a father has a chance of retaining a certain level of child custody, it may be challenging to win sole custody unless there are unusual circumstances at play. The reason for this is that the courts usually side with mothers but also, regardless of gender, the courts do not want to punish either parent that they see as having a valid, personal interest in raising their legitimate children.

Our advice typically is that custody is not something to be won or lost, and a shared custody arrangement is realistic. It’s reasonable to assume that the mother will not have sole physical custody, and also not expected that the father will not have sole physical custody, because in either scenario the other parent will not agree to such an arrangement. Shared custody is a realistic goal depending on the circumstances.

In cases where the mother was involved in criminal activity, showed disinterest in the children, abandoned the family, has an addiction problem, has a history of violence, or other such examples, the courts may indeed decide that it would be better for the father to have sole custody of the children. To discuss the potential of full custody, please speak to a divorce and family law lawyer.

Can an Unmarried Father Get Custody of Their Child?

An unmarried father can get custody of his child, but he must be legally recognized as their father first. This task may require cooperation from the mother, as both parent’s signatures are needed on the Affidavit of Parentage legal document. Without the cooperation of the mother, the father may need to request a paternity test.

When the parents of the minor child are not married, the mother automatically gets sole legal and physical custody. The father must take legal action if he wishes to fight for his share of child custody.

What Factors Go Into Deciding Who Gets Child Custody?

Certain factors can help a father look good to the courts, potentially winning him the larger share of custody. These factors include the following:

  • Does either parent have a criminal history or a history of domestic violence?
  • Does the child show a clear preference for the father?
  • Does the father show clear love for his child? Does the mother not show that love?
  • Which parent has a better chance of providing a safe and stable living environment?
  • Which parent is in better physical and mental health?
  • Who does the child have a closer relationship with, the mother or the father?
  • Who is the child’s primary caregiver?
  • Who shows more of an interest in the child’s activities, including the child’s future and their school work?
  • Who shows they’re willing to be cooperative with the other parent?

Contact ADAM for a Free Consultation Today

It is vitally important that you retain professional legal counsel for a child custody case. Winning the majority of custody is an uphill battle for any man in America, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Our law firm has extensive experience helping fathers in divorce and child custody cases, and we would be honored to assist you with your legal situation.

For a free phone consultation, please call our law offices at (248) 290-6675.