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Frequently asked questions about child custody

For parents in Michigan, deciding custody issues can be among the most difficult aspects of divorce. That’s why it’s so important to have the right information. There are a lot of myths surrounding child custody cases, and if you aren’t properly prepared you will have a more difficult time making your case to the judge. The American Bar Association answers the following questions so parent can will know exactly what to expect.

How Is Custody Determined?

Some couples establish custody on their own terms. However, for more contentious situations having the courts involved is preferred. In this case, the court will each party’s side of the argument and determine how to proceed. Once a decision has been made terms will be set out explicitly in the court order and it’s expected that each parent upholds their end of the agreement.

What’s the Difference Between Joint & Sole Custody?

The terms used to dictate a custody arrangement can vary from state to state. Many states refer to joint and sole custody; with joint custody both parents have equal time and say in major decisions, while with sole custody one parent will be primarily responsible for care (with the other parent allowed visitation). Courts also refer to legal and physical custody. In this case, legal custody refers to the actual decision-making process, while physical custody refers to where the child spends most of his or her time.

Will the Child’s Wishes Be Considered?

The best interests of your child are a huge consideration, so many courts are willing to listen to kids’ thoughts on custody. In most cases the preferences of older children are given more credibility (as it's determined that older children have greater insight into the matter). The basis of the preference is also important. If a child enjoys less discipline with one parent the court and prefers to live with him or her as a result, the court will probably not consider it a valid reason.

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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