Child Custody FAQ | Frequently Asked Questions

Okemos Child Custody Attorney

Divorce and child custody issues can be scary, frustrating and leave you with many questions. In order to alleviate some of your stress and provide you with as much information as possible, we have answered several commonly asked questions below. If you have any further questions, please contact us here or call us directly at 517.349.8259.

  1. What Is Joint Legal Custody?
  2. What Is Joint Physical Custody?
  3. What Is Primary Physical Custody?
  4. How Is Parenting Time Determined?
  5. What Happens At A Conciliation Conference?

Joint legal custody of the minor child(ren) simply stated is when both mother and father are to cooperate to make major decisions regarding the health and welfare of the children, including religious practices, medical decisions, school choices, etc. Courts will usually order joint legal custody unless there is some compelling reason for there not to be such an arrangement.

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2. What Is Joint Physical Custody?

Joint physical custody is when both parties have the child in their respective home or residence approximately 50% of the time. Obviously this works best if the parents reside in the same school system and are willing to cooperate with and share transportation responsibilities. Such a custodial arrangement is usually reached by agreement between the parties. Courts will not usually order if one party or the other opposes it.

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3. What Is Primary Physical Custody?

Currently, the Court measures this factor in the number of nights the child spends with the parent. Primary physical custody is when one parent has the child or children in their care custody and control more than 257 overnights. If the non custodial parent has the child less than 128 overnights, the other party has primary physical custody.

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4. How Is Parenting Time Determined?

If the parents are unable to agree on a parenting time schedule or custody prior to filing for divorce, the Friend of the Court will conduct a Conciliation Conference shortly after the complaint for divorce is filed. The goal is to reach an agreement between the parties regarding joint legal custody, physical custody, joint physical custody and parenting time options. If the parties agree, the Conciliator drafts a Stipulation and Order for Interim Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support, the parties sign the Stipulation and it becomes an Order of the Court to govern the parties during the Interim Period of the Divorce.

If the parties disagree, the Conciliator will write a recommendation for Interim Custody, Parenting Time and Support which becomes an Order of the Court. Either party has 21 days from the date of service of the Order to object to the recommendation. An objection to the recommendation will bring the matter before an F.O.C. referee or the judge to hear the matter.

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5. What Happens At A Conciliation Conference?

The Court, through the setting of a conciliation conference, will try to determine whether the parties can agree on parenting time, custody, visitation and child support during the 180 day, interim waiting period. Attorneys are allowed to accompany their clients in some jurisdictions, in others, they are not allowed in the conciliation conference itself, but are allowed to wait outside should their client's want to ask questions etc. See the continued answer in question 4.

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