Protecting Parental Rights
In the process of divorce or when unmarried parents separate and cannot agree, family relationships need to be restructured. When children are involved, it is always our commitment to help the parents negotiate an agreement regarding legal custody, primary residential custody, and parenting time that is truly in the best interests of the child. Child custody lawyers at our Grand Rapids firm will work with you to develop a plan which ensures that your relationship with your child is protected. Contact us to make arrangements to speak with a member of the firm.
Factors Affecting Custody
The court will look at a variety of factors when determining a child's primary residence and the amount of time the child will spend with each parent. It is the court's intention not to disrupt the child's life more than necessary, so prior behavior of each parent, the location of the home, schools, friends, and other factors are taken into account.
The court tries to encourage parents to agree on how much time each will spend with a child. When parents do not agree, in most families one parent had primary responsibility for the child before the separation, and that parent is generally awarded primary residential custody, while the other parent has generous parenting time. The parents in most cases share legal custody, making decisions regarding the child's medical care, education, and religion cooperatively. Our attorneys counsel clients early in the process of separation and divorce on how to prepare the strongest possible position from which to negotiate terms of custody.
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If circumstances change significantly after a custody and parenting time arrangement has been established, our family law attorneys can help you apply for or defend against a modification of the custody arrangement. If you would like to speak with one of our lawyers about a change in your child custody or parenting time arrangements, please call or e-mail our Grand Rapids office to make arrangements for a consultation.
Custody and Unmarried Couples
If the parents of a child have never been married, they are still obligated to provide support and still have parental rights. Our family lawyers can help you with questions involving establishing paternity as well as custody, parenting time, and support.