Can Michigan Courts Decide Physical and Legal Custody Differently?

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Michigan Child Custody Law requires Michigan Courts to issue specific decisions on which parent will have physical and legal custody of the children. Physical Custody typically means which parent the children spend most of their time with. Legal Custody is concerned with which parent has the right to make significant life decisions in a child’s life such as where the child will attend school and which doctor will treat the child. It is possible for parents to share physical and legal custody. Since these are separate concepts, what are the limits on how Michigan Courts can decide these issues? Can they be decided in separate hearings, for example?

A Michigan Court tested the limits recently when it bifurcated or entirely separated the hearings in which these issues were decided. However on appeal the lower court was reversed for going too far apparently. In Merecki v Merecki, the Michigan Court of Appeals stated that The trial court erred in bifurcating physical and legal custody and treating the two forms of custody differently, denying a hearing on one and referring the other to facilitation.

This case shows that it is important to have legal counsel in custody hearings to protect a litigant’s rights and object to how a hearing is handled. If you are seeking assistance with a family law issue contact Attorney Diana Mohyi for a consultation.

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