Oftentimes I hear people in Court or clients say “I want full custody.” And the Judges and Referee’s recently have been responding “what does that mean to you?” because the truth is, people aren’t quite sure exactly what it means. In Michigan, a distinction is drawn between legal custody and physical custody. Today’s post will focus on what legal custody means because I think that is the one that people have the most questions about.
Legal custody is basically the parent’s right to be involved in the upbringing of their child or children in regards to big decision making. Not the day to day decision making, such as what they will have for dinner, but the big decisions, such as medical decisions, educational decisions, and religious upbringing. Joint legal custody means both parents have the right to be involved in these decisions. If a parent has sole legal custody, that means that they can make these decisions without the input of the other parent, and even over their objection. If parents with joint legal custody cannot come up with a decision together, then either parent can petition the Court for an answer on what to do. Each parent will present evidence that their choice is the right decision and the Court will decide what is in the child’s best interest.
It is somewhat rare for a parent to be granted sole legal custody absent some extreme circumstances. It certainly can happen and does happen, but there needs to be evidence that joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interest. A parent trying to obtain sole legal custody will need to show the Court why the other parent should not have ANY input. Talk to our office today about any questions you have concerning legal custody of your child.