Willingham Coté Blog

Child Custody & Parenting, Grandparenting Time, Paternity Disputes, Divorce and Family Law

What is Legal Custody?

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We wish the Greater Traverse City business community and local families the best as they gradually reopen for the summer. It’s been an honor to work with the @TraverseConnect, who created this video in lieu of our planned ribbon cutting ceremony.

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How Does Legal Custody Work?
When you file for divorce or file paperwork to seek an order of custody for a minor child or children, you subject every parental decision to the jurisdiction of the courts. This means if you and your ex cannot make decisions together in regard to your child’s medical care, the school your child will attend, the receipt of vaccinations by your child, your child’s attendance at summer camps, etc., the judge in your local circuit court will make those decisions for you after he or she evaluates the facts to the best interest of the child. The Michigan courts have held there is not one parent whom is more important than the other to make the final decision and, thus, the courts will make that decision after evaluating the facts of the case.
If the parents disagree and/or cannot obtain consent from the other parent for matters as referenced above, a parent will need to file a motion before the local circuit and the presiding judge will make the decision. If one parent unilaterally makes the decision without the other parent’s consent, that parent may be subject to contempt of court and the sanctions that arise from such violation.
If the violations continue, the judge may punish the offending parent by terminating the joint legal custody and the non-offending parent will have sole legal custody on their own. Before unilaterally making decisions without the consent of the other parent, you should consult with an attorney first.