Deciding to file for divorce in a Michigan court is likely one of the most serious decisions you'll ever make in life. As a parent, it's also a situation that is bound to have a significant impact on your children. Your day-to-day lifestyle will undergo changes, and your kids might encounter challenges as they try to adapt. Like all good parents, their best interests are your highest priority.
Life is full of changes, some that are more difficult to navigate than others. However, the fact that you and your spouse will no longer live under the same roof doesn't necessarily have to ruin your kids' lives. In fact, many former spouses are able to devise amicable co-parenting plans that not only help their children come to terms with divorce but also help them maintain active, healthy relationships with both parents.
Determining which type of child custody plan is best
Before the court issues an order, it will take many factors into consideration to determine what is best for you kids when you divorce. The following details some of the important issues surrounding child custody:
- When you decide to send your kids to a new school, will you have to consult your ex? Legal custody grants decision-making authority to one or both parents.
- The most basic issue you'll need to resolve when you divorce is where your children will live. Physical custody determines whether they will go back and forth between houses or live with one parent full time.
- It's possible to have shared physical and legal custody. In fact, the court typically believes children fare best when this type of arrangement is possible.
- If there's a reason you believe it is not in your kids' best interests to be around their other parent, you can petition the court for sole custody.
If you feel the need to engage in the last bullet point, you must show evidence that supports your assertions. The court won't be interested in your past marital problems but in evidence that shows why your ex's presence would be a detriment to your children's wellbeing. Substance abuse problems, child abuse or neglect, or mental illness would be factors that might convince the court of legitimate reason to request sole custody.
Your support network is key to moving on in life
You'll likely have some good days and some bad as you and your kids adjust to life after divorce. If you have a strong support network in place, chances are they and you will be okay. Trusted friends who have gone through similar experiences can be a great asset during your time of transition.
Family members, your child's teachers, licensed counselors, ministers and legal advocates can also be key figures in a support system, and they can step in and provide assistance as needed, especially if a particular issue is impeding your relationship with your kids or causing legal complications.