Michigan Child Custody Law Firm in Ann Arbor

The family law attorneys of Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach, Buiteweg & Solomon, P.C. have helped thousands of Michigan families navigate custody disputes before, during, or after a divorce or breakup. We are committed to minimizing the stress and negative impact of a family law dispute on your child, and on you, whenever possible. We are well-versed in a variety of dispute resolution techniques to help your family through this process with dignity and respect, so that you can co-parent peacefully and effectively.

Understanding Michigan Child Custody Law

There are two types of child custody in Michigan:

  • Parenting time, which refers to which parent a child resides with (this is sometimes called “physical custody, although the term is not statutorily defined, and therefore we stay away from that terminology when possible), and
  • Legal custody, which refers to making important decisions about the health and education of a child.

When courts determine legal custody, they consider what would be in the “best interests of the child.” A judge must evaluate the parents on several “best interests” factors, which include:

  • The love, affection, and emotional ties between each parent and the child;
  • Each parent’s capacity to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the child’s religious upbringing, if any;
  • Each parent’s ability to provide the child with food, clothing, medical or other remedial care and other material needs;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
  • The child’s reasonable preference, if the court feels the child is mature enough to express a preference;
  • The moral fitness of each parent;
  • The physical and mental health of each parent;
  • The home, school, and community record of the child;
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent;
  • Whether domestic violence has occurred in the home, either in or outside the child’s presence.

The court may consider any other factor it deems relevant in determining a legal custody arrangement that would be in the child’s best interests. Because the State of Michigan considers it important for a child to have a strong relationship with both parents if possible, joint legal custody is common.

However, the court does not need to determine how your child will spend time with their parents, or how parents will make important decisions for them. If you and your child’s other parent are able to reach an agreement about legal custody and physical custody/parenting time, the court will generally approve it so long as it is in the child’s best interests.

You and your spouse or partner know your family better than anyone. If you can reach agreement, you can have a custody arrangement that is custom-designed for your family’s schedule and needs. If you are concerned that you cannot reach an agreement on your own, we can help.

How We Help You Resolve Michigan Custody Matters

Child custody can be a contentious issue, but often, with the right support, parents can overcome obstacles to agreement and develop a plan that works best for their family. Nichols, Sacks, Slank, Sendelbach, Buiteweg & Solomon offers clients a range of alternative dispute resolution options for Michigan custody matters, including mediation, negotiation, Collaborative practice, and arbitration. Crafting a resolution that works for you generally leads to a better co-parenting relationship and more willingness to abide by the terms of the agreement.

Not every child custody case can be resolved by agreement. In those matters that must go to trial, we are capable and experienced litigators and courtroom advocates. We understand the information that is important to the court and present evidence to help the court rule in your favor.

In addition to initial custody determinations, our attorneys regularly serve families who need to enforce or modify a custody arrangement due to a significant change in circumstances, such as the need to relocate. We invite you to contact us to schedule a consultation regarding your Michigan child custody or parenting time issue.