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House bill proposes joint custody proposal in Michigan

Child custody is among the most important issues parents of minor children have to address in the divorce process. When parents are cooperative and can agree on child custody matters, the process is certainly easier. When they cannot, the process can be quite difficult, and a judge will have to step in and make a decision in the best interests of the child.

As readers may know, states differ in how they treat the issue of joint custody. Although joint custody is known to be good for children after divorce, whether it is in the best interests of the child depends on the circumstances. Here in Michigan, unlike some states, there is no presumption that joint custody is in the best interests of the child, though family law judges are required to order joint custody if parents agree to it, unless it isn’t in the best interests of the child. The law could, however, soon be changing. 

Under a proposal currently in the House called the Michigan Shared Parenting Act, joint custody would be presumed to be in the best interests of the child, with certain exceptions. The presumption would not apply if a parent can provide clear and convincing evidence of exposure to domestic abuse, a likelihood of child abuse or neglect, parental alienation, or false or misleading allegations of child abuse, neglect or domestic violence. Parents, too, can consent to an alternative arrangement.

The bill, naturally, has both supporters and opponents. Supporters argue that the bill will help level the playing field for parents, and will prevent the court from taking sides against one parent. Opponents argue that it will be harder for parents to protect their children from domestic violence and neglect.

It remains to be seen what becomes of the bill, of course. Should it pass, it will be still be important for parents to work with experienced legal counsel in child custody determinations to ensure the law is properly applied and that they have the best chance at a favorable outcome for their children and themselves. 

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House bill proposes joint custody proposal in Michigan | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC