Child Custody Laws in Michigan

Mom heading to work with daughter

It is important to familiarize yourself with the child custody laws of your state when going through a divorce. Michigan child custody laws may differ slightly from those of other U.S. states. Child custody cases may be determined differently depending on the child custody laws of that state, making it crucial to understand these laws beforehand, so there are no surprises during court.

What to expect for Michigan child custody laws


Custody agreements between co-parents:
Many of us may be familiar with the term “visitation.” Michigan child custody laws and courts tend to refer to this as “parenting time”, which seems to be more acceptable. In Michigan, the co-parents are given the opportunity to come to an agreement on the type of custody they will enforce (both legal and physical custody) and also, depending on the type of custody agreement, how the parenting time will be divided between them. They will be able to submit this proposal to the court and if the agreement complies with Michigan child custody laws, the judge will typically allow for the agreement.

If a custody agreement cannot be made between co-parents:
Depending on your situation, you and your co-parent may not be seeing eye-to-eye at this time. Typically, an agreement on a custody plan is no easy task if this is the case. If both co-parents cannot agree on a plan for custody and parenting time, the court has the ability to determine the final custody and parenting time arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. In all cases, the courts will look to a predetermined list of factors that will help them to make a decision on custody and parenting time. These factors are based on the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970. In some cases, the court will refer to a third party professional for insight and a recommendation for a child custody and parenting plan that is in the best interest of the child.

Michigan child custody laws allow for custody to be awarded in multiple ways. When granted sole physical custody, one co-parent has the responsibilities of the day-to-day care of the child. Michigan child custody laws designate this co-parent to be the custodial parent and the primary residence of the child. The other co-parent in this situation will be given parenting time which may vary depending on the court’s evaluation. When granted joint physical custody, the actual residence of the child is shared between the two co-parents. The amount of time that the child spends with either co-parent is predetermined by the court’s custody order. Michigan child custody laws and courts typically prefer to grant joint legal custody to the co-parents, depending on the specific situation. Joint legal custody means that both co-parents share the ability to participate in the decision-making process for the child, such as educational, health, and religious decisions.

The Our Family Wizard Website® recognizes the Michigan child custody laws and the child custody laws for every U.S. state. Once a final custody and visitation agreement is made between your co-parent and yourself there are many tools available for you to use to help you honor your agreement, create an organized parenting plan calendar to keep you on track, and help you communicate with your co-parent. Conflict management between your co-parent and yourself is often a struggle after a recent divorce. The Our Family Wizard Website® aims to greatly reduce this conflict, providing a safe and healthy environment for your children. After consulting an attorney about Michigan child custody laws, the next step is to determine your rights and responsibilities as a co-parent after finalizing your custody agreement.


NOTE: Many state and federal laws use terms like ‘custody’ when referring to arrangements regarding parenting time and decision-making for a child. While this has been the case for many years, these are not the only terms currently used to refer to these topics.

Today, many family law practitioners and even laws within certain states use terms such as ‘parenting arrangements’ or ‘parenting responsibility,’ among others, when referring to matters surrounding legal and physical child custody. You will find these terms as well as custody used on the OurFamilyWizard website.