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Does Child Custody End When My Child Turns 18?

by | Aug 18, 2022 | Uncategorized |

Child custody is one of the most contentious issues in a divorce. Typically, child custody arrangements are legally binding until the child turns 18 years old. Parents may be met with confusion and anxiety about how these changes will impact the role they play in their child’s life. 

The Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins assists clients in child custody and other family law matters. At a consultation, you can discover what divorced parents should know when their child turns 18. 

When Can a Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

During the initial divorce case, the court considers the child’s preferences before deciding which parent will have sole or primary custody. There is no set minimum age for the child to share their wishes: rather, the court uses a case-by-case approach depending on the child’s maturity and how reasonable the preference is. While minor children can express a preference for which parent they’d like to live with, they cannot legally decide for themselves until they are 18 years old. After this age, your child can decide where they will live regardless of the original custody agreement’s provisions.

Moreover, child support responsibilities typically last until age 18 in Michigan but may be extended to 19 and a half years if the child is in high school and still living with the parent receiving child support payments. Children are legally entitled to receive financial support from each parent, and a parent cannot waive their responsibility to provide support even if he or she terminates their parental rights. Additionally, a child under 18 cannot refuse visitation that is determined by a court order since both parent and child must comply.  

Understanding Custody After a Child Turns 18 Years Old

If you are a divorced parent with a child who is about to turn 18, there are several changes to be aware of. Your child will gain the right to make key decisions regarding visitation and custody. Several changes take place:

  • Child Decides Which Parent They Will Live With. Since the child custody arrangements expire when the child turns 18, this grants the child the ability to make their own decisions about which parent they will live with. They may choose to continue living with the parent who had primary custody or may choose to live on their own. 
  • Financial Support. Child support payments will also stop once the child turns 18, leaving the other parent feeling stressed about how they can support the child. College and other living expenses can create a burden, so financial planning is a must before this transition takes place. 
  • Refuse Visitation. Your child will also gain the right to refuse visitation to a parent. Aside from extenuating circumstances, many child custody arrangements prohibit the child from refusing to see a parent, but this becomes invalid once the decree expires. As a result, the child can make their own decisions regarding visiting each parent. 

Reach Out to a Child Custody Lawyer

Michigan child custody laws can be complex, so if you’re establishing or modifying child custody arrangements, you’ll need a knowledgeable divorce lawyer at your side. Call our firm to discuss the details of your case.