House Bill 4691 May Change How Child Custody is Allocated in Michigan

Two of the most sensitive aspects of divorce are often the related issues of child custody and parenting time. Currently, family law courts in Michigan decide these delicate matters in accordance with what is in the best interest of the child while also considering other related factors such as each parent's:

  • Ability to provide for the child,

  • Moral, mental, and physical health,

  • Preferences (and the preference of the child if he/she is of suitable age),

  • History of domestic violence, and

  • Ability to give the child love, affection, and guidance.

However, some members of the Michigan House of Representatives believe that our state's current criteria for determining child custody and parenting time needs to be amended. According to Michigan Live, these advocates for change claim that under the current system whichever parent is working the most hours (usually the father) faces an uphill battle in court. They also note that over the last year fathers were awarded full custody of their children in only 7 percent of Michigan custody cases while mothers, on the other hand, were awarded full custody in 51 percent of cases. Additionally, in 40 percent of cases the parents were awarded joint custody, and other custody arrangements were awarded in 3 percent of cases. Advocates argue that the courts should award joint custody in more cases and, therefore, have created House Bill 4691.

House Bill 4691: The Michigan Shared Parenting Act

Proposed House Bill 4961 holds in relevant part that family law courts in Michigan will grant joint legal custody (i.e. shared decision-making authority regarding important decisions affecting the child's well-being and welfare) to both parents unless:

  • The parents mutually agree to another parenting arrangement,

  • One parent shows, by clear and convincing evidence, that awarding joint legal custody would materially compromise the child's health, safety, or well-being, or

  • The court finds that the parents are not likely to cooperate or agree on important decisions affecting the child's welfare.

If House Bill 4961 is eventually passed into law it would fundamentally change how child custody is allocated in Michigan as it would make joint legal custody and substantially equal parenting time the presumed starting point in custody cases.

Contact a Local Divorce Attorney

If you have questions about Michigan's child custody laws or your rights under the law contact experienced Michigan divorce attorney Michael A. Robbins today. Here at the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins we are committed to providing exceptional legal representation to clients throughout Michigan and fighting tirelessly for our clients. Let us fight for you. To schedule an initial consultation at our Bloomfield Hills contact us online or call (248) 646-7980.