Rochester Hills Child Custody & Support Lawyers
Professional and Reliable Legal Representation
Family legal issues like child custody and support are important matters that require an experienced and professional eye. Our lawyers at Little & Boylan PLLC will put our breadth of knowledge and experience in the legal field to represent our Rochester Hills clients.
Michigan presumes it is in the best interests of children to maintain a close relationship with both parents, so if both parents agree on joint custody, the court must order it unless it would not be in the children's best interests. Joint legal custody allows both parents to share the decision-making authority over such things as their children's education, medical treatment, religious training, or enrichment activities. Parents with joint physical custody also share the time they spend with their children. Note that the court can also award only one parent physical custody of the child, in which the court will create a parenting time (visitation) schedule for the other parent.
Under Michigan law, children have a right to parenting time with the non-custodial parent unless the other parent demonstrates, by clear and convincing evidence, that visitation would endanger the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. Parents may draft their own visitation n schedule, but if they cannot agree, the judge will create one for them. A typical arrangement is for the noncustodial parent to have the children on alternate weekends, alternate holidays, and some of the children's school vacations.
When creating a parenting time agreement, the judge will consider all the following factors:
- whether the child has special needs;
- if the child is less than 6 months old, or if less than 1 year, whether the child is still nursing;
- the reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect during parenting time;
- whether there is a chance the non-custodial parent will abuse the other parent during the parenting time exchanges;
- the inconvenience to, and impact on, the child for traveling for parenting time;
- whether the court believes the non-custodial parent will exercise parenting time according to the order;
- whether the non-custodial parent has frequently failed to exercise parenting time;
- the threatened or actual detention of a child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent during parenting time;
- any other relevant factors.
Note that a key factor in every custody case is the children's best interest. The Michigan Child Custody Act establishes that the court must consider the following when considering the children's best interests:
- the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between each parent and the child;
- each parent's ability and willingness to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the education and raising of the child in religion or creed (if any);
- the ability and willingness of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs;
- how long the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- the permanence of the family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
- each parent's moral fitness;
- the parent's and the child's mental and physical health;
- the child's home, school, and community record;
- the child's reasonable preference;
- each parent's willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;
- domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child; and
- any other relevant factors.
In addition to child custody, Michigan also has certain considerations for determining child support. Parents have a duty to support their children until the child reaches 18 years old. Generally, only the noncustodial parent makes payments – usually in the form of income withheld from a paycheck. The basic amount of child support due will depend on the parents’ incomes, their parenting time, and the number of children to support. Parents must also cover the cost of the child’s medical and childcare expenses. Note that individuals must include workers’ compensation, unemployment, or disability benefits in the evaluation of their income.
As with drafting a child custody agreement, parents may agree on the child support amount on their own without the assistance of a court. However, if they cannot cooperate and decide on an amount in the best interests of their children, a judge can make the final determination of the support amount. To do so, the judge will consider:
- the child’s needs;
- the child’s extraordinary educational expenses;
- whether a parent is a minor;
- if a parent has sufficient income to pay additional support to raise the child’s standard of living above the threshold for public assistance;
- whether the parents accumulated high levels of joint debt;
- where the court awards property in lieu of support;
- if a parent is incarcerated with minimal or no income or assets;
- where there are extraordinary medical expenses;
- if the formula did not account for the full extent of a parent’s income;
- where a parent earns bonuses at irregular intervals;
- if someone other than the parent can supply health care;
- if a child earns an extraordinary income;
- if there is a court order to pay other expenses;
- the day-care and other parent’s costs not reflected by overnights used to calculate the offset for parental time;
- where the child is in custody of someone other than a parent;
- certain spousal support orders;
- where a parent’s share of child care expenses exceeds 50% of that parent’s base support obligation before applying the parental-time offset; and
- any other relevant factors.
Questions? Let Little & Boylan PLLC Help.
Following divorce, some of the most important things to consider for moving forward with your life are child custody and child support. If you are involved in a custody battle or have questions about determining child support amounts, speak with a lawyer immediately. Our team at Little & Boylan PLLC can help you negotiate your parenting time and support agreements in your child’s and your best interests.