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New bill would make shared parenting the default in Michigan

New bill would make shared parenting the default in Michigan

The No. 1 rule in any custody case, regardless of the state, is that judges are to make the decision based on the best interests of the child.

That could all be changing, however, if the Michigan legislature has its way. A new bill is being pushed through the legislature that would tightly restrict the judge’s discretion in most cases.

The automatic default would be a shared parenting plan. Right now, mothers tend to have about 80 percent of the parenting time with their kids.

It is true that numerous studies have shown that shared custody is better for kids — even when the parents are considered “high-conflict” couples. Kids who have roughly equal time with both parents tend to develop better socially, physically, educationally and psychologically. It’s also true that a lot of psychologists aren’t as certain about the value of shared parenting during a child’s “tender years” — some feel that infants and toddlers should have one primary caretaker — although even that theory has seen some rigorous debate recently

However, fathers say that system automatically slants the entire custody game against them and that it’s hard to bond with a child during those precious years when they can’t even have an overnight visit until the child’s nearly out of diapers.

Proponents of the bill say that the automatic default system would help equalize things for fathers and mothers who are both seeking custody.

Those who are against the bill say that it goes too far — and could put children at risk when domestic violence is involved. It’s possible that it could make fighting between some couples even worse because parents would have more incentive to fight against what was once commonly accepted.

An attorney can provide more information on fathers’ rights and custody cases, giving you a better understanding of your legal options.

Source:, “How a new bill could force divorced parents to have joint custody of kids,” Aug. 23, 2017

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