A straightforward child custody case is rare. Family law is complicated because families are complicated. Every case is different, and every person’s circumstances will vary based on several factors. A family law attorney specializes in navigating the complexities of these cases and all that comes with them. After all, in a child custody case, a child’s future is on the line so there is a lot of responsibility on the system to ensure the best possible outcome for that child. If you’re involved in a child custody case in Michigan, you might want to better understand the process and delve into common issues.
A Brief History of Child Custody Cases in the United States
During a child custody case, an important dynamic plays out: the relationship between children, parents, and the state. This relationship is fundamental for society. Ideally, the less the state needs to step in, the better. There are moments, however, when the state must get involved and these involve cases of child custody, death of a parent, or other circumstances.
Over the years, custodial law has evolved and adapted to the times. Like much of our justice system, early child custody law borrowed from English Common Law. In the early days of English common law, fathers held the legal right to the custody of their children almost exclusively. They even owned their children’s wages and labor. This was the case in early colonial America, but that would begin to change around 1848.
In the early 20th century, the tide had shifted the other direction, and custody was almost always given to the mothers—especially if it was young children involved. During this time, it was the women that predominantly stayed home to provide the heavy-lifting in childcare. Before the 1970s, for example, there seemed to be a well-accepted preference for mothers in custody cases.
Yet, around this time, when divorce became more prevalent, courts moved towards gender-neutral custody. In the eyes of most courts today—barring unique circumstances—whether you are the father or the mother, you have an equal legal right to visitation and to see your child.
Common Questions Regarding Child Custody Cases
Child custody laws vary from state to state. Some of the laws have changed and evolved, as societies and family, dynamics have changed. Below are some of the most common questions revolving around Michigan child custody cases.
Do I have a right to parenting time?
The law in Michigan allows parenting time for the non-custodial parent. The only way this can be denied is if the other parent/party demonstrates—through clear and compelling evidence—that that visitation would endanger the child.
What is Michigan’s view on joint custody?
Like many states, Michigan presumes that it is in a child’s best interest to have a quality relationship with both parents. If joint custody is agreed to by both parents, the court must abide—unless they deem it is not in the child’s best interest.
How does the court create a parenting time schedule?
If both parents agree to a parenting schedule, the court will adopt this schedule. If a schedule cannot be agreed upon by the parents, the court creates one. Common arrangements will see non-custodial parents having the children on alternate weekends or on holidays, but this can vary depending on circumstances.
Can a parent be denied child visitation because of unpaid child support?
No. The court sees visitation and child support as separate entities. While the court can take steps to ensure the payments are made, a parent will not necessarily be denied seeing their child because of this.
Common Issues that Can Derail a Child Custody Case in Michigan
When you are involved in a custody case, it’s not uncommon to run into snags or delays that prolong the final decision. Below are a few bad choices that lead to cases being derailed or moving against a parent’s favor.
- Maligning the other parent before the child. While custody cases are often embroiled in emotion, tensions should not be taken out on the children. The court does not look lightly at parents who malign the other parent in front of the child.
- Not being honest. Throughout your case, it is important, to be honest with the court and with the other spouse. Lying about your circumstances, income, or any other deception will not bode well for you in the eyes of the court.
- Refusing to compromise or cooperate. Bad behavior or acting uncivilly towards the other parent, can work against you in a case. The court encourages both parents to come to amicable agreements and terms, but bad behavior and a reticence to cooperate can paint a parent in a negative light.
- Avoid lashing out in public or on social media. In the world of social media, everything is fair game. Posting negative comments or emotionally-charged rants online or in public about the other spouse can also work against you in a child custody case.
Are You in a Custody Battle? Contact a Trusted Family Law Attorney to Guide You Through
Family law cases can be complicated and drawn out. There’s a lot on the line. We help you with the best possible outcome. A good family lawyer will walk you through the court process, explain what is expected, and help negotiate and fight on your behalf. If you have questions about a child custody case in Michigan, call Kecskes, Gadd & Parker today.