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What are the differences in child custody?

On Behalf of | May 23, 2022 | Child Custody |

A key element in many Michigan divorces is settling child-related issues. It may also strain any kind of negotiations as couples vie for custody.

Part of the issue is understanding that the court needs two different types of custody agreements in place before finalizing a divorce petition. Learning some of the differences between them and what they may mean can help anyone going through the process reach a compromise rather than allowing a judge to decide.

What does legal custody mean?

Married parents both have the right to care for their children and make decisions on their behalf. Legal custody allows that to continue after divorce. Family court judges generally like to grant both parents an equal weight in decision-making for things such as:

  • Education
  • Medical care
  • Religious upbringing

However, the court may grant only one parent sole legal custody in some instances. This may occur if the court believes it is in the children’s best interest, or they may come to physical or emotional harm otherwise.

How does physical custody work?

Even if one parent gets sole legal custody, both parents may get visitation or physical custody. This happens through the creation of a parenting plan. The parenting plan is an in-depth agreement and schedule setting out when the children will reside with each parent. Other agreements between the parents should also go into the parenting plan, including things such as bedtimes, extra-curricular activities and phone communication.

Keeping sight of the end result may help when it comes to negotiating terms to settle all of the issues necessary to finalize a divorce.