Child Custody

Child Custody Attorney in Grand Rapids


Child custody and visitation are emotional issues for most parents. When both parents want custody of the children, the issues of custody can become a very fierce battle during the divorce. Thankfully, custody laws in the State of Michigan advocate and uphold the best interests of the child and the law creates a presumption that each parent have an opportunity to bond and develop a strong and healthy relationship with the child. The primary concern for most Courts when a petition is initially filed is to maintain the stability of the child’s environment and avoid unjustifiable and disruptive custody changes while also providing both parents with as much time with the children as possible. An experienced Grand Rapids custody attorney at Gordon & Hess, PLC. can help you through the custody process in the state of Michigan.

Legal and Physical Custody


There are 2 forms of child custody in Michigan: Legal Custody and Physical Custody. Legal Custody refers to decision-making powers for the children. Parents who share joint legal custody are involved in the day-to-day responsibilities for the children. Both parents have equal say in their child’s life events such as which school the child goes to, which religion and upbringing as well as healthcare matters including doctors and dentists. Physical Custody refers to the physical presence of the children and where the children will primarily reside on a daily basis. If one parent is awarded the primary physical custody or sole physical custody of the children by a Court then this would mean that parent is the primary custodian and the children would primarily reside with that parent while the other parents would typically receive reasonable parenting time or visitation with the children. Call us today at (616) 272-3331 to speak with one of our Grand Rapids custody lawyers. An award of Joint Physical Custody is possible and generally means each parent has “significant periods” of physical custody with the children. However, this does not necessarily mean the child’s time must be evenly (50/50) divided between each parent. It is very possible and most likely that one parent may have slightly more physical time with the children then the other while the parties are still considered to have joint physical custody under the eyes of the law.

Sole Legal Custody


In some circumstances both parents may not be present or actively involved in their child’s life or possibly one parent failed to answer the initial custody or support case when it was originally filed. When this is the case one parent can be awarded Sole Legal and Physical Custody by the Court. When a parent is granted Sole Legal and Physical Custody, the child primarily resides with one parent and that parent makes all the legal decisions without the need to consult or confirm anything with the other parent. The non-custodial parent literally has no legal rights under the law and cannot even obtain basic information about their child on request. The non-custodial parent still may have basic visitation rights and be ordered to pay child support but still have no legal rights. This also presents a very serious problem for the non-custodial parent as the Court is required to grant any requests from the custodial parents to move from the State of Michigan without a formal hearing and the non-custodial parent does not necessarily have any right to stop such a move without first petitioning the Court for Joint Legal Custody. Call us today at (616) 272-3331 to speak with a Grand Rapids custody lawyer at Gordon & Hess, PLC. If the parents can agree on who shall have custody, the Judge must accept the parents mutual decision unless the Court makes a finding on the record by “clear and convincing” evidence that the custodial arrangement is not in the child’s best interest. However, if a couple cannot agree on the legal and physical custody of the children, the Court is authorized and empowered by law to make a binding decision and issue a Judgment. When determining child custody, the court must consider the best interests of the child. The court does so by applying the “best interest factors” to your set of circumstances.

12 Best Interest Factors


These are defined under Michigan law as the following 12 factors:

  • Love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, guidance, continuation of the education and raising of the child in its religion or creed, if any.
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the youth with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
  • The length of time they have lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  • The home, school, and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship.
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular custody dispute.

Custody cases in Michigan are very difficult from an emotional stand point and the laws are not easily understood without an experienced professional to assist you. It is very important that you retain an experienced professional that understands the custody laws in Michigan and can aggressively and effectively advocate on your behalf to protect your rights including the right to have a loving and nurturing relationship with your children. Call us today at (616) 272-3331 to speak with one of our Grand Rapids custody lawyers.

Serving ALL

West Michigan


At Gordon & Hess, PLC, located in Grand Rapids, the attorneys are caring and compassionate without compromising their duty to aggressively protect your rights. We are highly experienced and have handled Divorce and Custody cases in Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, Holland, Muskegon, Newaygo, Kalamazoo, Allegan, Hastings, Ionia, Stanton as well as other cities throughout West Michigan. Let our Grand Rapids family and divorce attorney team help you. Please contact child custody lawyer Grand Rapids, Gordon & Hess, PLC now and schedule a free ½ hour confidential consultation to meet face to face and discuss the family law issue you are or soon may be facing and to discuss the best course of action and start develop a winning game plan from the start.

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