Custody is the term used to describe the relationship between the child and the parents or the person fulfilling the parental role. Under Michigan law, there are two aspects to custody: legal custody and physical custody. When a Court determines the custody of a child, it must follow the Child Custody Act of 1970. The best interests of the child will control the Court’s decision. A custody determination will usually address both legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the involvement of the parents in making the major decisions concerning the welfare of the child. Physical custody refers to the parent or parents with whom the child primarily resides. Further, both legal and physical custody can be joint or sole to one parent or the other. The most common Court determination in Delta County is joint legal custody with sole physical custody to one parent. The Court, however, can order any combination of these two aspects of custody in a custody determination.
Sole legal custody means one parent makes all of the major decisions, such as medical care, school or religious choice, etc., affecting the welfare of the child. Joint legal custody means the parents share in making these major decisions.
A parent who has legal custody must get permission from the Court if he or she is moving out of the State of Michigan. Further, if the parents share joint legal custody, each of them must get permission from the Court before moving more than 100 miles from his or her current residence. If the other parent agrees to the move, the Court will sign a stipulated order as long as the move is in the best interests of the child. If the other parent will not agree to the move, the parent wishing to move must file a request for permission to move with the Court.
Physical custody, along with parenting time, determines which parent the child lives with and what time they spend with each parent. Sole physical custody means the child resides primarily with one parent and joint physical custody means the child resides with both parents on an alternating basis. Once a physical custody determination has been made and there is a court order, the Friend of Court’s job is to enforce the physical custody and parenting time arrangement.
If you believe the other party in your case is violating your physical custody order, you may submit a written complaint to the Friend of the Court with specific facts showing the violation. You can find the form here. If the Friend of the Court determines that your complaint shows a violation of your order, the office will take steps to enforce your order.