In our experience, we have found that one of the most challenging aspects of a family law matter for most parents are those that affect their children. Whether it be child custody, the parenting time schedule or child support, keeping the children’s best interests at the forefront is key to helping guide the decisions being made. There are times when parents decide that it is important that they become more involved in a child’s life as plans to separate or divorce are being made. These changes should be discussed mindfully between the parents. Above all, minimizing conflict in front of the children is key, and can be helped by patience, empathy and mutual respect.
It is natural to worry about separation or divorce regarding child custody and support. You may feel stress that you will no longer be with your children as often as you used to be. If the children live primarily with you, you may be worried about the differences between households as to discipline, extracurricular activities, attentiveness, as well as the influence of other people within the other household. Each of these considerations can become more challenging when schedules and routines change, either as a result of a change to custody and parenting time, or naturally as the children age.
Whether you are paying or receiving child support can bring its own level of concern. You might worry about how it’s calculated and if you can afford to provide child support to your co-parent. You may also feel concerned that if you’re receiving child support, it may not be enough to cover the needs of your child. These are valid concerns that have real consequences. In the state of Michigan, you can get an idea of what your support obligation may be by experimenting with the Michigan child support calculator here. We understand how heavy these things can feel and are here to educate you as to how it all works, to help you put your best foot forward for optimal results, and to help you navigate your path forward, both in understanding the terminology and the process.
Legal custody means that a parent has parental authority and responsibility over major decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, including but not limited to, medical treatment, enrollment in school, religious instruction, and participation in extracurricular activities.
It is uncommon for one parent to be awarded sole legal custody. In most circumstances, parents can expect to be awarded joint legal custody of their child. With joint legal custody, both parents must agree on the important decisions affecting the life of their child. Where there is disagreement, help from the court may be necessary.
Physical custody refers to the child’s physical living arrangement or ‘home base’. A child can have one or two home bases. Primary physical custody is where the child is generally considered to have one home base but has visitation with the other parent. Joint physical custody refers to the child having a home base with each parent.
Parenting time is the detailed schedule that parents exercise with their children. There are a variety of schedules to choose from, however, parents are invited to create their own schedule that will work best for their child and both households. Each family is unique, and the schedule of when your child goes between each parent’s home can and should reflect that. It is important to consider the special circumstances of each child, including the distance between you and your co-parent’s homes, the school and extracurricular schedule of your child, among many other considerations. Our firm played a role in the development of Michigan’s parenting time guidelines most recent edition, which provides alternative parenting time schedules based upon the developmental age of the child.
At Wilson Kester the Empowered Divorce Source, our dedicated staff will conduct a thorough initial interview with you to learn about the current custodial situation your child is familiar with. We will then use this information to help you determine what custodial arrangement would be most beneficial for your child. Together, we will work to develop the most effective strategy for achieving your case goals.
We prioritize the emotional and physical well-being of your child, focusing on their needs and advocating for their rights. We maintain professional relationships with child psychologists and child social workers and will connect you with professionals in support of you and your child. We pride ourselves on our ability to handle child custody cases with the sensitivity they deserve. Our dedication to children and their best interests, coupled with our legal expertise, ensures that we provide unmatched service for families in Northern Michigan.