When you separate from the parent of your child, you need to determine custody arrangements. Understanding a few things before you start can help smooth the process.
Michigan recognizes legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody gives you the authority to make decisions for your child. Physical custody is about spending time with them.
As parents, you can reach a custody agreement yourself
If you and the other parent can find a custody solution that you both accept, you can present it to the judge to formalize. If this is hard to do, consider the services of a mediator. They are an independent third party trained in helping people who do not agree to agree. If you cannot, then the judge will determine the arrangement for you.
Fathers and mothers have equal rights in custody situations
You are not at an automatic disadvantage if you are a man. Provided that is, you are registered as the father. If not, you may need to claim paternity first. Mothers are automatically assumed to be the parent.
Courts favor both parents staying in their children’s lives
A court will only seek to exclude one parent from seeing their child in exceptional circumstances where doing so poses a risk to the child. Otherwise, they work on the assumption that children are better off seeing both parents.
Your children cannot decide where they want to live
While courts will listen to a child’s opinion, they must also take all the other factors into account. The older the child, the more weight their opinion could have.
When weighing up custody options, a court will focus on doing what is in the child’s best interests. If you can do that as parents, it will make reaching an agreement simpler.