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Michigan child custody law and the presumption of joint custody, P.2

In our last post, we looked briefly at how the issue of joint custody is addressed under current Michigan law. As we noted, Michigan law directs judges to presume that it is in the best interests of children to have a strong, continuing relationship with each parent after divorce, but it does not currently include a presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child.

Michigan lawmakers may soon have the opportunity to consider a change to Michigan law that would add a presumption in favor of joint custody. The measure would still allow judges to come up with other custody arrangements in circumstances when joint custody is not in the best interests of the child, such as when one or both parents are unfit. It also allows parents to decide in favor of an alternative arrangement. 

Under the current measure, judges would be required to provide an explanation for a decision not to award substantial parenting time to both parents. This better allows for review of the decision if it is challenged later on or a modification requested.  

As with many legislative measures, there are both proponents and opponents. Advocates point out that research has shown that joint custody is best for a child when both parents are fit. Skeptics, however, rightly point out that a joint custody arrangement may not work best for every family. Parents have to be willing to cooperate with one another for joint custody to really work in favor of a child.

In our next post, we’ll say more about this topic and how an experienced attorney can help advocate for parents in child custody proceedings.

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Michigan child custody law and the presumption of joint custody, P.2 | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC