Legal Custody

If DNA tests show the alleged father is the biological father, the judge will sign an Order of Filiation. An Order of Filiation establishes paternity, making the alleged father the legal father. Custody, parenting time, and child support decisions may be made in the paternity case. If there is an existing Michigan paternity or child support case for your child, custody and parenting time decisions should be made in that case.

Filing for Child Custody

Your situation is more complicated if you have a paternity or child support case from another state. If you are in this situation, you may want to talk to a lawyer about your options. A husband is the legal father of a child conceived or born during his marriage. No one can sign an Affidavit of Parentage for a child who already has a legal father.

To change the legal father, the mother, her husband, or the biological father must first get a court order revoking undoing the husband's paternity. If the judge revokes the husband's paternity, then the biological father can become the new legal father by Affidavit of Parentage or court order. If the biological father becomes the legal father by signing an Affidavit of Parentage, either he or the mother can start a custody case. Jurisdiction is not simple. Your custody case will determine the rights and responsibilities of both parents towards your child.

This includes custody who the child lives with and who makes decisions for the child , parenting time visitation , and child support. Legal custody means the right to make major decisions about raising a child. A parent with sole legal custody makes these decisions alone.


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Parents with joint legal custody make these decisions together. Physical custody means who the child lives with. The court may grant joint physical custody, meaning the child lives with each parent some of the time. Or, the court may grant sole physical custody, meaning the child lives with only one parent.

Normally, if a parent has sole physical custody, the other parent has regular parenting time visitation. In general, children have the right to be close to both parents. They have the right to parenting time unless the judge finds there is clear and convincing evidence that it would be a danger to the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. The court will normally order parenting time if either parent asks for it.

If one parent is awarded sole physical custody, the other parent will probably have regular parenting time with the child. If the parents have joint physical custody, the parenting time schedule will often say when the child will be with each parent, including birthdays, holidays, and school breaks. Sometimes a parenting time schedule gives the parents about the same amount of time with their child.

Online Services

This is common with joint physical custody. In other situations the child is with one parent most of the time, and the other parent has parenting time a couple times a week or less. This is common with sole physical custody. If the judge determines that a parent is dangerous to the child, they may order supervised parenting time or no parenting time at all. For example, this can happen if a parent is likely to:.

Your parenting time schedule should meet the needs of your child, you, and the other parent. If you cannot agree on a schedule, you will get a court-ordered schedule instead. Children have a legal right to financial support from their parents. Parents have a legal duty to support their children. A parent cannot avoid paying child support by agreeing to have their parental rights terminated or by agreeing not to have parenting time visitation. The judge will order child support based on the Child Support Formula, unless using the formula would be unjust or inappropriate. Among other factors, the formula takes into account income, the number of children, and the number of overnights each parent has with the children.

If you do not have a lawyer, the Friend of the Court can calculate child support for you. In some counties, a meeting with the Friend of the Court will be scheduled soon after the custody case is filed. In other counties, the judge may refer your case to the Friend of the Court to calculate child support. If neither of these things happen, you can file a motion asking the judge to refer child support to the Friend of the Court.


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To learn more about child support, read Child Support in a Nutshell. Your custody case will be in the family division of the circuit court in the county where your child lives. Court procedures vary from county to county, but you can expect the following steps in your case.

Temporary Custody and Parenting Time Orders

If you file the case, you are the plaintiff. After you file your forms and have the defendant served with copies, the defendant has the option of filing an answer and a counterclaim. This means your custody case can proceed without your input. You can use our Do-It-Yourself Answer and Counterclaim for Custody tool to create an answer and counterclaim you can file with the court and avoid being in default.

Either party can ask the judge for a temporary order for custody, parenting time, and child support before the judge enters a final order. A temporary order is usually in effect until the final order is entered at the end of the case. Michigan Legal Help cannot help you ask for a temporary order.

You may want to consider getting a lawyer's help to ask the judge for a temporary order if you think you need one. Sometimes the judge will enter an order without holding a hearing.

Obtaining Emergency Temporary Custody

This is called an ex parte order. This can happen if the judge believes serious harm will occur if an order is not entered right away. The parties will have the chance to object and present evidence later. The Friend of the Court office assists the judge in making custody, parenting time, and child support decisions.

The Friend of the Court may meet with the parties, investigate, and make a recommendation to the judge about custody, parenting time, and child support. This depends on the county where your case is located.

Custody and Parenting Time | Michigan Legal Help

A Friend of the Court recommendation is not a court order until it is signed by a judge. You get an opportunity to object to a recommendation before a judge signs it. If you object, you will have a hearing in front of the judge. This varies in each state. Good luck. Can I get temporary custody without him knowing about it? Rushelle's Question: My husband is threatening to take my kids. If I file for temporary custody how soon will he know about it? What is the process? Can I make it to where he doesn't know I have temporary custody? Brette's Answer : It is possible to obtain an emergency order of temporary custody without the other parent present, but a hearing is always scheduled for very soon after to give the other parent a chance to be heard.

Do I need to have the kids with me to file for temporary custody? Chaz's Question: Do I have to have my kids in my custody in order to file for temp custody?

Custody and Parenting Time

Do you need an attorney to file for temporary child custody? Can temporary custody be established outside of the court? Valery's Question: I am a grandmother of a 7 year old boy. My daughter is willing to allow me to have temp custody.

Can this be done outside of the court?