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Child Custody

Michigan Child Custody Attorney A custody order, or that portion of your divorce judgment pertaining to custody, specifies with who the child shall live, and other conditions surrounding custody. Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreements regarding custody. When parents cannot agree, the Judge must decide by considering all of the factors enumerated under the Michigan Child Custody Act [MCL 722.21]. In a disputed custody case the Friend of the Court will be making recommendations in writing to the Court.

Court Procedures

A custody order, or that portion of your divorce judgment pertaining to custody, specifies with who the child shall live, and other conditions surrounding custody. A number of custody arrangements are possible. The most common are:

Joint Legal Custody

Means that parents will communicate and cooperate with one another and attempt to reach mutual decisions regarding major issues affecting their children. This decision making process includes, but is not limited to major medical decisions, educational decisions and religious upbringing. Most Judges grant joint legal custody, unless there is some compelling reason not to do so such as child abuse or non-involvement in the life of the child.

Joint Physical Custody

Means that children live with one parent part of the time and the other parent part of the time. This time does not have to be equal. The parent who has care of the children at any given time is responsible for routine daily decisions regarding the children.

Primary Physical Custody

Means that the children live primarily with one parent.

Sole Custody

Means that the children live with one parent and that parent is responsible for making the major decisions regarding the children.


The Ingham County Friend of the Court offers a procedure called Conciliation. It is a conference that is held with the parties and a trained conciliator from the Friend of the Court office. It is designed to help parties more quickly resolve disputes of child custody, parenting time and support issues. The trained conciliator first attempts to use mediation techniques to help the parties resolve disputes. Unlike mediation, however, conciliation is not a voluntary process, but is required by the Court. If the parties reach an agreement, the conciliator will prepare an order reflecting that agreement. In the event the parties cannot reach agreement on the disputed issues, the conciliator will prepare a recommendation to the Court on the disputed issues. If this is a new case, the Court will immediately enter the conciliator’s recommendation as a temporary order. If either party objects to that recommended order, they may have a referee hearing by filing objections within 14 days after they receive the order. If there already is a court order in the case prior to the conciliation, the Court will not immediately enter the recommended order. The Court will wait at least 21 days before entering the order to give the parties an opportunity to file objections to the recommended order. If objections are filed within the 21 days, a referee hearing will be held. Even if an objection is filed, the Court's most recent Order remains in full effect until and unless the Court modifies it so that support, custody and parenting time orders continue as legally binding on all parties.

Best Interest of Child Factors
  1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  6. The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  8. The home, school, and community record of the child.
  9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
  11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
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