In Michigan, the courts control child custody disputes. Parents can resolve their own property allocations and support issues on their own ? but the court must certify any child custody arrangement. Before determining physical custody, the court takes into consider if there is an "established custodial environment." This article will go over that provision and how it may apply to you.
Pursuant to Michigan law, an established custodial environment exists if the child naturally looks to one or both parents / custodians for guidance, support, comfort and discipline. The court also takes into account the age of the child, the home environment, the inclination of the parent to assume custody and how long the child resided at the home. Once the court takes into account all of this information, it determines whether or not a custodial environment has been established.
If no custodial environment exists, then the court is free to make a custodial arrangement. But if the court finds that a custodial environment does exist, then it can only change the custodial arrangement if it is very clear that a big change in circumstances has occurred. An attorney can help you contest this result if necessary. Bear in mind that just because a child has been living with you, does not mean that a custodial environment has been established. If your child looks to both you and your ex-spouse for support and guidance, then a custodial environment has been established but it is with both of you.
If you are considering divorce and you have children then you may want to speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. Custodial disputes can get very serious very quickly. An attorney can be there to help ensure that your right to custody is respected and that your children are treated fairly.