In most instances, children benefit from having both parents in their lives. For this reason, determining custody when parents are undergoing a divorce or separation is highly important.

Different states have certain stipulations and regulations for how they institute custody. In the state of Michigan, there are three custody types to examine.

Joint physical custody

As the name indicates, joint physical custody is shared physical custody of the child, in which the child lives with both parents. This arrangement may involve the child staying with each parent for a few days out of the week, every other week, or some other type of shared arrangement. A court-approved parenting plan outlines this custody determination.

Joint legal custody

Joint legal custody involves both parents having the right to make legal choices for their children. Some of the primary matters of concern include:

  • Health and medical decisions
  • Education
  • Religion

Parents may make these decisions together, or one parent may have control over specific issues. As with the other custody matters, the parenting plan details these terms.

Sole custody

Though the courts usually grant some form of joint custody, there are certain situations that warrant one parent receiving sole custody. Usually, this occurs when a parent is not able to provide a stable environment for the child, or if the parent poses danger to the child’s well-being. In most cases where this occurs, one parent reports such activity and the court conducts an investigation into the matter. Should the court decide to grant sole custody to a parent, the other parent may retain visiting rights, or the court may strip the parent of all rights.

While the court makes the final decision, it usually encourages parents to work together to determine the various terms of their divorce, including custody. However, when that is not an option, the courts work to create an order in the best interest of the child.