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Child Custody

Experienced Child Custody Lawyers Serve Kalamazoo, Michigan

Highly personal legal service for issues close to your heart

For most parents embroiled in a divorce, child custody is the most emotionally charged issue they face. At Brueggemann & Sharma, P.C., we understand how important it is to maintain your loving relationship with your children. We assert your parental rights forcefully while working to develop a parenting plan that serves the best interests of your children. Drawing on more than 55 years of combined family law experience, we are able to take innovative approaches to solving even the most contentious child custody disputes. Since 1998, we have helped numerous parents in Kalamazoo achieve a positive outcome, and we’re ready to help you.

Basics of child custody in Michigan

Michigan recognizes two types of child custody:

  • Physical custody — The right to have the child live with you in your residence, along with the responsibility to provide for the child’s physical needs.
  • Legal custody — The authority to make decisions affecting the child’s health and welfare.

Either of these types of custody can be joint (shared) or sole (exclusive to one parent). Parents who do not have physical custody of the child generally have a right of visitation, or parenting time, and pay child support to the custodial parent. In joint physical custody arrangements, a high-earning parent may still be required to pay child support to the other parent.

In Michigan, courts are required to consider 12 factors when deciding custody disputes. These include:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties between each parent and the child
  • The capacity of each parent to provide a home and meet the child’s material needs
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • The physical and mental health of the parents
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the child is mature enough to express a preference

An important element in child custody cases is the established custodial environment, or ECE. The law favors stability, so if a child has an established routine that is satisfactory, there is a presumption against forcing a change upon the child.

Courts can award temporary custody to either parent or both parents during the divorce process, prior to issuing a permanent custody order.

Visitation or parenting time for noncustodial parents

If a parent does not have physical custody of a child, the court generally awards visitation, also known as parenting time. The court can order parenting time that is “reasonable,” leaving the parents to work out the details, based on the schedules of all parties involved. Or, the court can order fixed visitation, which is a specific schedule of parenting time with the details explicitly stated.

The custodial parent has a legal obligation to make the child available for the other parent’s visitation. Failure to do so can lead to court sanctions or a court-ordered change in custody. Interference with parenting time is never an excuse to withhold child support payments, and parents who do so risk losing any sympathy the court may have for their situation.

If there are concerns about a parent’s fitness or whether visitation is in the child’s best interest, the court can order supervised visitation or prohibit visitation until certain conditions are met.

Contact our reputable Kalamazoo law firm for your child custody dispute

Brueggemann & Sharma, P.C. understands how important your children are to you. For highly personal and effective child custody representation, call us at 269-220-7300 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our office is conveniently located at 4021 W. Main Street, Suite 400, Kalamazoo, MI 49006.

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