When a Michigan couple parts ways and has children, it can be difficult to navigate the complex terrain of child custody. In some instances, there is a custody dispute and the sides are in battle over who will have the child the bulk of the time and how visitation will be arranged. In others, the parents can move forward with a joint custody agreement. This can be beneficial for the parents and the child. Still, it is important to understand the various aspects of joint custody.

Joint custody and its two categories

Joint custody must be in the child’s best interests for the court to agree to it. The court will give its reasons when approving or denying a request for joint custody. A fundamental factor is whether the parents can cooperate sufficiently to serve the child’s well-being and care. With joint custody, there are two options: joint legal custody and joint physical custody.

With joint legal custody, the parents will share the authority to make decisions on the child’s behalf. These will impact the child’s welfare. It does not hinge on how much time the child spends with each parent. Joint physical custody is different. It states that the child will spend a certain amount of time with each parent. For there to be sharing of the decision-making authority as there is with joint legal custody, the judge must specify it. The parent who has the child at the time may have the right to make the decisions on the child’s behalf.

There are various ways for joint physical custody to be arranged. For example, a parent might have the child for the school year with the other parent having the child for breaks like Easter and Christmas as well as for an extended period during the summer. Or these could be alternated. If the parents are amicable, this can be negotiated and altered as needed.

Legal help can be useful in a child custody case

Whether the parents are on good terms or not, it is wise to have legal advice to address child custody issues. Joint custody might not be the best solution in all cases, so it is imperative to understand how to ensure the child’s needs are addressed and a nurturing environment is provided. Consulting with a law firm that is experienced in family law and child custody can be crucial to forging a reasonable solution that everyone can accept. Calling for advice and representation is a sound decision.