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Michigan child custody law and the presumption of joint custody, P.1

In any contested child custody case, the primary goal of the court is to come up with custody and parenting time arrangements that are in the best interests of any children. Courts weigh a variety of factors in determining whether proposed arrangements are in the best interests of a child.

Michigan law specifies that courts are to presume that it is in the best interests of a child to have a strong, ongoing relationship with both parents after divorce. To this end, parenting time is supposed to be reasonably calculated as to frequency, duration and type in order to promote ongoing relationships with the parents. 

A legal presumption does not mean that courts cannot conclude that having an ongoing relationship with a parent is not in a child’s best interests, but that the burden is upon the opposing party to show that it isn’t. Such legal presumption can be, and frequently are, a source of dispute in custody cases.

One thing Michigan courts are not bound to at present, unlike some other states, is a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child. Such a presumption would place the burden on the parent opposing a joint custody arrangement to show that joint custody wouldn’t be good for the child.

Michigan state lawmakers will reportedly soon have the opportunity to consider proposed legislation that would make a change to this law. In our next post, we’ll look a bit at this proposal, and the importance of working with an experienced attorney in child custody proceedings. 

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Michigan child custody law and the presumption of joint custody, P.1 | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC