All kinds of questions arise when parents face a child custody issue or dispute, and parents can be confused about what their options are. The Oakland County custody attorneys at Kronzek & Cronkright can help. Contact us online or call (248) 479-6200. Custody concerns may arise because of divorce, legal separation, change of circumstances, or the relocation of a parent. They often involve a wide range of issues, such as where the child will live, whether a parent will have joint or sole custody of the child, and if a parent will have parenting or visitation time. All of these considerations can be mind-boggling and require a high level of attention, skill, sensitivity, and experience.
Custody cases will determine which parent has physical and/or legal custody of the child. Physical custody deals with where the child primarily resides and who takes care of the child on a daily basis, whereas legal custody refers to who makes decisions regarding the child’s education, medical care, religion, and other aspects of the child’s life. Courts can opt to distribute these rights equally to each parent, thereby granting joint custody, or by giving one parent a large majority of these rights, thus granting sole custody. Here in the sixth circuit (for Oakland County) the vast majority of cases have both parents equally sharing legal custody and therefore having equal input into the major parenting decisions.
Oakland County Custody Attorneys
One of the more difficult custody decisions revolves around deciding physical custody of the children. In Michigan, the Child Custody Act provides law concerning child custody. It defines what certain terms mean, like who can be considered a parent; it specifies what 12 factors should be considered when determining the best interest of the child; and it establishes the guidelines that the court uses in deciding when a parent will have parenting time. Our Oakland County family attorneys have studied the Michigan Child Custody Act extensively and have used it repeatedly to obtain successful results in child custody cases.
The Established Custodial Environment
Before deciding custody of the child, courts first look to determine whether there is an “established custodial environment” for the child. That translates to asking who the child looks to for love, guidance, support, etc.
The Present Custody Order
The second step in making a custody decision depends on whether there is already a custody order in place or whether you have a brand new custody case. If you’re just filing for divorce, chances are that there is no present custody order in place. With no prior custody order, the courts proceed to an analysis of the 12 factors that make up “the best interests of the child.” That analysis leads the court toward making a proper custody decision.
If there is already a custody order in place from some prior court proceeding, the second step is a bit different. Courts look to see whether there is any change in material circumstances or a good cause that has an effect on the child’s life to warrant a new custody evaluation. The person seeking to change an existing custody order has to prove to the court that it should reevaluate custody. If there is no proof, there will be no third step. If there is proof of the change or good cause, the court will proceed to a third step.
Michigan’s Best Interest Factors for Child Custody Issues
The third step involves an analysis of the 12 “best interests of the child” factors. The court is not required to weigh each of the 12 factors equally. In fact, in Oakland County it is rare that the judge gives equal weight to each factor. Oakland County judges tend to tailor their analysis to the particular circumstances of each case and each child.
This very brief explanation is only the tip of the iceberg. In reality, there is far more complexity to Oakland County custody cases than can be explained in this short summary.
Our team of Oakland County child custody attorneys understand not only the law surrounding child custody in Michigan, but also the magnitude of any child custody outcome. Therefore, we commit ourselves to going above and beyond to resolve custody disputes in the most efficient and peaceful manner as possible. Sometimes the solution can be found through a mutual agreement of the parents or, if necessary, through a formal court proceeding. Many of our custody cases are resolved without any trial in front of a judge.
If you are experiencing a child custody problem or suspect that a child custody dispute may arise, call us and get the help you need.
We are available for phone consultations and meetings during or after business hours. Our office is conveniently located at 30300 Northwestern Highway. That’s the Gem Building near 13 Mile and Northwestern. Call for an appointment.