When married couples in Michigan who have children divorce, they often face many challenges during proceedings insofar as future care and decision-making rights are concerned. The court generally bases its decisions on whatever it determines is in the children’s best interests at the time although as time goes on life changes may prompt a modification of an existing court order. With regard to child custody, legal custody is just as important as physical custody.

Most times, the court will award joint legal custody to both parents. This type of custody refers to authority to make decisions on behalf of a child regarding major life issues. Such issues might include circumstances having to do with education, religion or medical and health care situations.

Parents who share legal custody must consult each other before making major life decisions for their children. This means, for instance, if one parent determines it’s in a particular child’s best interests to change schools or attend boarding school, the other parent must be in agreement before any formal action is taken. There are some situations, however, where the court may award sole legal custody to one parent.

If a parent’s participation in a child’s life has been determined by the court to pose a detriment to that child, the other parent may be granted sole legal (and perhaps physical) custody of the child. If this occurs, the parent with legal custody does not have to seek the other parent’s agreement (or even opinion) regarding any major issue that arises that impacts a child’s life. If a Michigan parent believes he or she should be granted sole legal child custody, an experienced family law attorney could advocate on his or her behalf in the hope of gaining the court’s approval.

Source: Findlaw, “Legal Custody“, Accessed on Sept.19, 2017