General Information About Child Custody, Parenting Time & Support
All information provided is generalized and not intended
to provide specific legal advice to any person
The object of any custody order is to provide an environment that will be in the best interest of the children, keeping in mind that both parents should have a continuing relationship with the children.
There are two types of custodial orders, that is legal and physical. Both legal and physical custody can be awarded jointly (meaning both parents) or sole (meaning only one parent.) The determination of those orders will depend on the situation of each case.
Legal custody speaks to who makes the major life decisions for the children, to include, but not limited to, major medical decisions, religious upbringing, education and so forth. Typically, most courts award legal custody to both parents as both parents should be responsible for making such important decisions about their children’s lives.
The other type of custody is the physical custody of the children, or who the children reside with more. This can be an equal division of time between the parties (joint physical custody) or more with mom or dad (sole physical custody.) Again, the physical custody of the children will be granted on a case by case situation.
The ideal situation would be one in which the parents can readily agree upon a parenting time schedule that is suitable to their family. However, in reality and unfortunately, that is not too common. In that case, it will be up to the court to decide what is in the best interest of the children and set a specific schedule for parenting time.
Each county in Michigan offers what is called a Standard Parenting Time Schedule that sets forth specific periods of parenting time. Though each county dictates what they consider standard, the general idea is that the non-custodial parent (parent who does not have physical custody of the child(ren)) would be granted every other weekend, Friday to Sunday, at least one non-overnight mid-week visit, and rotating holiday schedules which will include summer.
Again, each county and judge has their own specific ideas of what parenting time should be and a lot of that is case specific. A review of your situation by an experienced attorney can provide you with greater information about what results you may be able to expect during a custody and parenting time dispute.
If your case is one in which an amicable agreement could not be reached, KB Law Office will work diligently to protect your parental rights.
MODIFICATION OF ORDERS
Another issue that relates to custody and parenting time is that of modifications of orders that have already been entered. Some believe that once an order has been entered, it cannot be changed. That is untrue. Custody, parenting time and support orders are always reviewable until such time as the child reaches the age of majority.
A change of custody and parenting time requires a little more effort as there are certain thresholds that have to be met. This to mean that one party cannot come into court and petition for a change of custody and parenting time without some significant change in the circumstances of the children since the last custody and parenting time order was entered. A change in circumstance is again, like most things in divorce, case specific and will require a consultation with an attorney to specifically define what can and cannot be done.
Once an order for custody and parenting time has been obtained, that order is generally forwarded to the local Friend of the Court for review, investigation and recommendation of child support.
Child support is based on a guideline formula that takes into account many different factors. Some of the main factors include the income of each party, the number of overnights the non-custodial parent is awarded, additional children, health insurance premiums and other mandatory deductions from pay.
Once Friend of the Court has all of the information that need, it is input into the system and a number is “spit out” that indicates what the non-custodial parent must pay each month for the support of the minor child(ren.) Generally, orders for child support will be directly garnished from the non-custodial parents pay and will be dispersed by the Michigan State Distribution Unit to the custodial parent.
It has been asked if parties can opt out of the Friend of the Court services, that the parties themselves can agree to payable amounts and would prefer to keep the decisions between themselves. And yes, that is an option . . . but ONLY if neither party is receiving any sort of state aide, whether medical, cash or food stamps. If a party is receiving state aide, the parties may not opt out of Friend of the Court services.
It is understood that dealing with issues of custody and parenting time during a divorce can be somewhat traumatic for everyone involved, including the children. Most of the time, the children have never had to live anywhere else except with both parents and that both parents are at home each night. Now, the children are expected to adapt to a new routine, a new way of life, and there are some obstacles in doing so.
In addition, each parent had a set role in the parental relationship during the marriage and now each parent is required to be all roles to the children. It can be quite an adjustment for both parents.