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Do’s and Don’ts of Seeking Custody and Parenting Time in Michigan

The thought of losing time with your child is challenging in any case. When custody and parenting time decisions are in the hands of a judge, it can feel like the most important relationship of your life is left to the will of a stranger. But going through a custody conflict in Michigan does not mean relinquishing total control over your future. By showing that your child’s best interests are your priority, you have a better chance of obtaining a favorable outcome for your family.

Michigan law strongly favors shared parenting time, as long as spending time with either parent would not be injurious to the child. Physical custody, determining where the child lives, can be awarded to one (sole) or both (joint) parents. The same goes for legal custody, which deals with each parent’s right to make decisions for the child.

In preparing for your divorce, the actions you take can help or hurt your chances of achieving the type of custody and parenting time arrangement you want. Keeping in mind these do’s and don’ts may guide you in making smart decisions strengthening your case.


  • Be respectful — Even if you and your child’s other parent do not get along, it is important to remain civil. Do your best to communicate with respect and compassion.
  • Maintain stability — Continuing with your child’s regular routines for school, extracurriculars and religious activities can be helpful in promoting a safe, supportive and stable environment.
  • Keep up your bond with your child — Continue to spend quality time with your child, showing interest in their activities and what is important to them.
  • Obey court orders — If you are subject to a child support order or restraining order, follow its terms. You can raise objections and seek modifications but the court will not look favorably on you if you go against its instructions.


  • Fight with the other parent — Don’t resort to yelling, making threats or name-calling.
  • Keep your child from their other parent — Unless you have a court order allowing you to do so, do not try to prevent your child from seeing their other parent. If you take your child away without alerting the other parent, you may be accused of contempt of court.
  • Make major life changes — Hold off on moving in with a new partner, taking on a new job that alters your schedule drastically or relocating far from your child’s home. Big changes in your lifestyle can be seen as a sign of instability.

At Dawson Family Law PLLC in Sterling Heights, we help Michigan parents find child custody and parenting time solutions that work for their children. With more than 40 years of family law experience, I capably address and resolve complicated legal situations of all kinds. To schedule a free initial consultation, call me at 833-671-4445 or contact me online.

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  • Sterling Heights Office
    43805 Van Dyke Avenue
    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314
    Phone: 586-731-7400
    Fax: 586-731-6370
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