Michigan Moves To Make Joint Custody Mandatory

Board Certified Family Law Specialist Matt Arnold answers the question: “What can I do to gain custody of my child in North Carolina?”


Everyone knows that custody and visitation are among the most contentious parts of many divorces. Parents are understandably motivated to secure as much time as possible with their children and fight hard to ensure they are granted authority to make decisions about how their children will be raised. Though this makes perfect sense, many wonder if the process could be simplified (and made much less stressful) by eliminating the fight over custody entirely.


Crosswalk-sign-Charlotte-Child-Custody-Lawyer-300x225So how do you go about doing that? After all, in a divorce time with the children and control over decision-making can only be divided so many ways. The way that legislators in Michigan chose to handle the matter is to simply mandate equal time. That’s right, by ensuring that judges award joint custody, almost down the line, there’s little left to fight about.


This past week, the House Judiciary Committee in Michigan approved a bill that would require judges to award joint legal custody of children to parents going through a divorce in the state. The measure says that judges would be required to award joint legal custody and substantially equal parenting time (meaning no parent could receive more than 200 nights with the children each year) unless there’s a preponderance of evidence indicating domestic violence exists in the family.


The law goes even further in restricting families, saying that parents are prohibited from moving more than 80 miles away from the other parent. This would obviously greatly impact a family’s ability to grow and change as time goes on, including pursuit of new career opportunities. Finally, the bill says that only if a child is 16 or older would weight be given to his or her preference on custody.


The reason for consideration of the measure is an attempt to create more uniformity in custody awards across the state. According to a supporter of the measure, right now custody outcomes vary across the state not based on parents or children or specific facts, but entirely based on the judge making the decision. The aim of the new legislation is to remove judicial discretion from the equation and simply award both parents equal time, no matter what. Supporters say they have studies to show that equal parenting time benefits children and the latest measure is a good way of ensuring that happens more often than not.


Critics of the bill, and there are many, have come out in force. They argue that the requirement that parents must not relocate will create economic hardship for many families, especially given increasing mobility. Additionally, the aim of eliminating judicial discretion misses a key point: judges act as important gatekeepers, ensuring that someone is watching out for the best interests of children. The fear is that by preventing judges from serving in their traditional role, children could end up suffering. The fact is, all families are unique and no one solution works for everyone. Though joint custody might be a great thing for some, it might be terrible for others. Imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on the custody process doesn’t help and runs the risk of hurting.


If you find yourself facing a complicated family law matter, then you need the help of experienced family-law attorneys in Charlotte, North Carolina who can help guide you through the often confusing process of divorce. Please contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC today at (704) 370-2828 or find additional resources here.


About the Author

ARNOLD & SMITH LAWMatthew Arnold is a Managing Member of Arnold & Smith, PLLC, where he focuses on the areas of family law, divorce, child custody, child support, alimony and equitable distribution.

Mr. Arnold was raised in Charlotte, where he graduated from Providence Senior High School. He attended Belmont Abbey College, where he graduated cum laude, before attending law school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on a full academic scholarship.

A certified Family-Law Specialist, Mr. Arnold is admitted to practice in all state and administrative courts in North Carolina, before the United States District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, and before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia.

In his free time, Mr. Arnold enjoys golfing and spending time with his wife and three children.






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