If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Michigan or if you are currently in the process of getting divorced and have children with your spouse, you may know that there is pending legislation in the state concerning shared parenting. In recent months and years, a number of states across the country have turned to equal shared parenting, or the presumption that parents will share equally-50/50-in physical custody or parenting time unless there is a clear reason for the court to deviate from the presumption. While Michigan courts do emphasize the importance of the parent-child relationship after a divorce, as the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline underscores, Michigan law does not yet have a presumption for equal shared parenting time.
House Bill 4691, or the “Michigan Shared Parenting Act,” would change that. The bill was introduced last spring, and it could change the way child custody is handled in Michigan divorce cases if it passes. What do divorcing couples in Michigan with kids need to know about the bill and its implications?
How the Michigan Shared Parenting Act Could Change the Way Custody is Handled in Michigan Divorces
The proposed legislation was introduced by Rep. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake. Why is Runestad sponsoring the bill? In a report from MLive, Runestad explained that most custody cases now come down to the discussion of who brought a child to a great number of activities. He went on to contend that, when courts are deciding child custody and parenting time issues, it often becomes a default position, that whoever is at work the most is generally the parent who is fighting the harder battle based on the current law.
If the bill were to pass, courts would begin from the point of joint legal custody and equal shared parenting time. Those in favor of the bill argue that a presumption of joint legal custody and shared parenting time is in the best interest of children across the state in most situations.
Strong Opposition to the Proposed Legislation
Yet the bill is not popular with everyone in Michigan. For example, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence, among others, has come out in opposition to the bill. Typically, equal shared parenting custody legislation is popular among father’s rights advocates.
According to a recent article in NPR, a similar bill that is under consideration in nearby Illinois is supported primarily by the father’s rights organization called “Dads Can Too.” What is wrong with a presumption of equal shared parenting? For the organizations that oppose this type of legislation, according to the NPR article, there are a number of different reasons that equal shared parenting should not be the presumption. For children’s rights advocates, this type of presumption fails to “take into consideration a child’s need for flexibility.” For those who support domestic violence prevention organizations, such legislation “would place kids at a disadvantage and be harmful if an abusive relationship exists between the parents.”
Learn More from a Michigan Divorce Attorney
Do you have questions about how child custody issues will arise during your divorce? A divorce attorney in Michigan can speak with you today about your situation. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins to talk to a dedicated advocate.