Many couples are surprised to learn that there are actually two types of custody, legal and physical. Legal custody refers to the authority to make decisions regarding a child’s education, health and welfare. Generally, courts will order joint legal custody, which grants both parents the right to make these types of decisions. Physical custody, in essence, refers to which parent gets to raise the child in his or her home.

Determining physical custody of a child is perhaps the most difficult issue in a divorce. It is emotionally charged and the process can be extremely complex. When parents cannot agree on who gets physical custody of a child in Michigan, the dispute is usually referred to what is known as the Friend of the Court (FOC). The FOC will assign an Investigator who will meet with the parents and may interview other family members, social workers, teachers, the children and other people who can provide relevant information. The FOC Investigator will then use the information gathered to issue a recommendation regarding custody, parenting time, and child support based upon 12 factors set forth in the Michigan Child Custody Act and the Michigan Child Support Guidelines.

If one or both parents do not agree with the FOC recommendation they can file an objection with the Court. Fighting an FOC recommendation often involves hiring an “expert” such as a psychologist or psychiatrist to conduct his or her own investigation. If one parent hires an “expert” the other will likely follow suit. As you can imagine, from this point on the conflict quickly escalates and becomes increasingly difficult to resolve.

At Matecun, Thomas & Olson, PLC we have helped hundreds of clients obtain custody of their children. We are highly skilled at helping couples come to agreements on custody and visitation that meet the needs of both parties as well as their children. However, we are prepared to fight aggressively on your behalf if your spouse (and his or her attorney) will not negotiate in good faith. We understand the breadth of issues and subtle nuances involved in custody disputes, and are committed to protecting your interests and those of your children.

Visitation and parenting time

Livingston and Macomb County Parenting Time Lawyer

Parenting time, also known as visitation, is the amount of time each parent gets to spend with his or her minor children. Like custody, issues surrounding parenting time can be a source of disputes and stress for parents and children alike. In a perfect world, parents would come to an understanding about the amount of time the non-custodial parent wants and deserves, and what is best for the children. In the real world, this doesn’t always happen. In addition, simply agreeing to something called “reasonable” parenting time is not much of a solution and can lead to ugly disputes during holidays, summer vacations and more.

When divorcing couples can’t agree on parenting time, the Court will get involved. As with custody disputes, the process usually begins with the Friend of the Court, where recommendations are made based upon the best interests of the child. Either parent can fight the FOC’s recommendations by filing an objection with the Court.

If you are involved in a custody or parenting time dispute, contact our Livingston County or Macomb County attorneys. We are here to protect your rights and the best interests of your children.