When You Have Questions About Child Custody

Your children are the most important part of your life. When it comes to child custody, the outcome will affect their lives and well-being for a long time to come. So you don’t just need answers; you need the right answers and from someone you can trust.

When you work with Lisa Stern, you are working with a lawyer who has been protecting families and children in the metro Detroit area and throughout Michigan since 1995. This experience means that we have seen nearly every type of child custody situation imaginable and can offer you time-tested advice about how to accomplish your goals and give your children the best possible chance to succeed in life.

Our Child Custody Practice

In addition to answering questions about your specific situation, we can provide you with information about custody-related topics such as:

  • Understanding how custody issues are decided: We can help you understand how a court will look at a situation and how it will apply the best interests of the child test.
  • Working through various custody options: When it comes to sole and joint custody, myths abound. Joint custody, for example, does not mean that you will automatically split parenting time 50-50. Learn more about the shared custody options that may be available to you.
  • Developing a parenting plan: We can help you craft a comprehensive and creative plan that takes all considerations into account, including school and work schedules, extracurricular activities, logistical concerns, holidays and other details.
  • Determining how child support fits into the picture: We have a long history of helping parents receive or pay a fair amount of child support based on their financial means and the needs of their children.
  • Navigating potential changes in custody and support arrangements: When life changes — for example, because of a job loss, relocation, or remarriage – you might need to modify an existing order. We can help, whether you are seeking or opposing a potential modification.
  • Establishing or contesting paternity: Legal parenthood is at the foundation of child custody and support cases. If paternity is an issue, we can help you resolve it.

We also handle cases involving domestic violence or Child Protective Services. The well-being of the children is paramount in these situations. However, sometimes false or exaggerated allegations can end up depriving parents of valuable time with their children – time that’s ultimately irreplaceable. You can rely on us to address these sensitive matters with care and discretion.

Your Family Is Unique

We recognize that families come in all shapes and sizes – and that no two families are alike. When you work with us, you can expect attentive and tailored guidance based on your unique goals, needs, and priorities.

Our lawyer understands the challenges and nuances of custody situations involving:

  • Divorce and separation
  • Unmarried parents
  • Stepparents
  • Grandparents and other relatives
  • LGBT couples

Types of Custody Arrangements in Michigan

When parents separate or divorce in Michigan, they face important decisions regarding the care and upbringing of their children. One of the most significant decisions involves determining the custody arrangement that best supports their child’s needs and well-being. There are several possible child custody arrangements, each with distinct characteristics and implications for both children and parents.

Sole Custody Arrangements

In a sole custody arrangement, one parent gains the exclusive right to make major decisions about the child’s life, including those related to education, health care, and religion. This parent is known as the custodial parent. This arrangement doesn’t mean the other parent loses all parental rights. Instead, it indicates that the custodial parent has the primary responsibility for the child’s day-to-day needs and major life decisions. The noncustodial parent often has the right to spend time with the child, known as parenting time. Courts usually grant sole custody when they believe this arrangement serves the child’s best interests, especially if they deem that one parent is unfit or unable to care for the child.

Joint Custody Arrangements

Joint custody involves both parents sharing the responsibilities and decision-making for the child. In joint custody arrangements, parents must communicate and cooperate in making decisions about their child’s welfare. It requires a high level of cooperation and communication between the parents to ensure they can meet the child’s needs effectively. This type of custody can take two forms: joint legal custody and joint physical custody. Here’s how they differ:

  • Joint Legal Custody: Joint legal custody allows both parents to have an equal say in making significant decisions about the child’s life. These can include decisions about the child’s education, health care, and religious upbringing. In joint legal custody arrangements, neither parent’s decision-making rights are superior to the other’s. This means parents must discuss and agree on these major decisions, requiring them to work together and communicate effectively.
  • Joint Physical Custody: In joint physical custody arrangements, the child lives with both parents at different times. The time split can vary, but the goal is to provide the child with substantial and frequent contact with both parents. This arrangement requires careful planning and scheduling to manage the child’s time between two households. It’s important to note that joint physical custody does not necessarily mean a 50-50 time split. It’s more about ensuring the child has meaningful and consistent interaction with each parent.

Factors Judges Consider When Determining Child Custody

In divorce cases involving children, judges must approve any child custody plans to make them enforceable. The judge’s primary focus is on the child’s best interests. This means they must carefully evaluate factors like the following to ensure the arrangement supports the child’s overall well-being:

  • Each parent’s ability to offer a stable, loving environment
  • The child’s physical and emotional needs
  • The child’s age and health
  • Any history of domestic violence or abuse
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health
  • The child’s established living pattern (school, home, community)
  • Each parent’s willingness to facilitate the child’s relationship with the other parent
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, and medical care
  • Each parent’s ability to offer the child guidance and support
  • The child’s preference, if the child is of sufficient age and capacity to form an opinion
  • Any other factors the court considers relevant

A child custody lawyer in Michigan can make a big difference in your child custody case. They have a deep understanding of family law and experience in cases similar to yours. Lisa D. Stern, a family law attorney in Detroit, can draft a custody agreement that reflects your child’s best interests and your wishes. She can also represent you in court, argue on your behalf, and strive for a favorable outcome.

Speak Directly With An Attorney

Call us at 248-335-5000 to speak with family law attorney Lisa Stern about your child custody case. You can also contact us online. Based in Bloomfield Hills, we serve clients throughout the Detroit area and statewide.

Contact Attorney Lisa D. Stern

For an initial consultation with attorney Lisa D. Stern, call 248-335-5000 or complete our online contact form. You can discuss every aspect of child support with the utmost candor and confidentiality.