If you are involved in a child custody case, or a divorce case with children, you need a lawyer on your side who can offer practical counsel and strong representation.
Family disputes can be challenging – especially high conflict cases.
It is often difficult to make objective decisions in the middle of a divorce or a custody dispute. You want an experienced child custody attorney who has helped parents put together parenting plans, regain custody, or obtain sole custody when appropriate.
Attorney Novar will work for you and your kids.
At Francie L. Novar, PLLC, we represent men and women in and around Washtenaw, Wayne, Jackson, and Livingston Counties in all types of family disputes.
In every case, Attorney Francie L. Novar will work closely with you to help you reach an agreement that is in the best interests of your child. In the early stages of your case, she will give you practical, candid advice on how your custody dispute may be resolved. As a result, you can have reasonable expectations about how your case will be resolved.
In practice, there are two types of child custody. Attorneys in Michigan refer to custody in terms of “physical” and “legal” custody; however, the law only defines “joint custody.”
In the statute, joint custody is defined as an arrangement in which the court order specifies:
- That the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents; and/or
- That the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.
Physical custody refers to the amount of parenting time each parent will have.
Legal custody involves decision-making regarding the major decisions in a kid’s life:
- Medical treatment
- Religious training
When the parents who share joint legal custody cannot agree on a major decision, the judge will ultimately make the decision.
What Determines Child Custody?
As discussed above, the main factors impacting a court’s decision on guardianship are the child’s best interests.
According to the Michigan Child Custody Act, such best-interest factors include:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between each parent and the kid;
- Each parent's ability and willingness to give love, affection, and guidance, and to continue the education and to raise in religion or creed (if any);
- The ability and willingness of each parent to provide food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs;
- How long the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
- The permanence of the family unit of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
- Each parent's moral fitness;
- Everyone's mental and physical health;
- Home, school, and community record;
- The kid's reasonable preference;
- Each parent's willingness and ability to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the kid and the other parent or the kid and the parents;
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the kid; and
- Any other factor the court deems relevant to the custody dispute.
Deciding Parenting Time
In Michigan, the court must presume it is in the child’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents. Thus, parenting time must promote a strong relationship with both parents.
Every parent has a right to parenting time unless the court is convinced, by clear and convincing evidence, that visitation would endanger the child's physical, mental, or emotional health.
When deciding how to allocate parenting time, in addition to the best interest factors, the court will consider the following factors:
- Whether the kid has special needs;
- If the kid is less than 6 months old, or if less than 1 year, whether the kid is still nursing;
- The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect during parenting time;
- Whether there is a chance the noncustodial parent will abuse the other parent during the parenting time exchanges;
- The inconvenience to, and impact on, the child for traveling for parenting time;
- Whether the court believes the noncustodial parent will exercise parenting time according to the order;
- Whether the noncustodial parent has frequently failed to exercise parenting time;
- The threatened or actual detention of a child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent during parenting time; and
- Any other relevant factors.
Parents often work together to arrange a visitation schedule. If the parents cannot agree on a schedule, the judge will create one for them.
Hire an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Ann Arbor
It’s crucial to have dependable representation if you prepare to negotiate your parental rights with your ex-spouse soon. An experienced Ann Arbor child custody attorney can provide legal guidance, protection, and peace of mind during this hard time.
For instance, Attorney Novar knows what it takes to prevail in a high-conflict custody case.
In Tsimhoni v. Tsimhoni (Oakland County), Attorney Novar worked closely with a team of attorneys who succeeded first in getting the judge to recuse herself and then getting the children returned to their mother’s care the court illegally removed the children from her care and control.
In Echols v. Kabza (Washtenaw County) Attorney Novar’s client was awarded sole legal custody after a lengthy trial that included the other party presenting testimony and evidence over approximately 14 trial dates.
Whenever possible, Attorney Francie L. Novar recommends mediation over litigation to resolve family law matters.
Mediation has a number of advantages over litigation, such as:
- Mediation often helps parents find some common ground in heated disputes;
- Mediation gives each parent more control over the eventual outcome;
- In litigation, each parent will have to live with the judge’s final determination; and
- Mediation is also usually less expensive than litigation.
Of course, we know that mediation or negotiation may not be appropriate in every case. No matter how your case is resolved, our firm will help you build a parenting plan that promotes the best interests of your child while protecting your parental rights.
How Our Child Custody Attorney Can Help You
Attorney Novar will help you establish custody and visitation agreements that take into consideration the educational, medical, and religious needs of your child.
In child support matters, our law firm is able to modify and enforce child support orders in the years and months following divorce. We can also help you establish appropriate child support payments based on your status as a custodial or noncustodial parent, whether you are receiving or paying support.
Schedule a free consultation online with Francie L. Novar, PLLC to learn more.