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Michigan Child Custody Forms and Process

Breaking up can be a painful time for any couple. But regardless of whether it's through divorce, breakups can be especially difficult for any children involved. Some of the most challenging issues involving children are custody issues, such as determining which parent will live with the child or who will make life decisions concerning the child. In Michigan, the courts primarily resolve the issue of custody. But before it reaches that point, however, parents must undergo a lengthy process involved, including the filing of various forms.

Michigan Child Custody Forms and Process Overview

When you need to know the spirit of the law without the legalese contained in statutes, it's helpful to see the law presented in an easy to understand manner. See the chart below for an overview of the child custody process in Michigan, including links to relevant statutes and necessary forms.


Michigan Compiled Laws:

Establishing Paternity

Establishing paternity is a prerequisite for child custody when the parents aren't married to each other.

Parents are unmarried:

  • If the parents were never married, the paternity of the child must be established before a custody case is filed.
  • Form used: Affidavit of Parentage

Mother is married to someone other than the father:

  • The mother's husband is the presumptive legal father of the child. To change this status, the mother, her husband, or the biological father must first get a court order revoking the husband's paternity.
  • Form used: Affidavit to Revoke Acknowledgment of Parentage
    When the Affidavit of Parentage is in effect, the law gives initial custody to the mother until either parent begins the custody case.

Filing Your Case

The party that files for custody is the plaintiff; the other parent is the defendant. Below are the common steps in the process:

  1. Determine if Michigan is the right state. The custody case should be filed in Michigan if it's your child's home state. Generally, this means that your child lived in Michigan with a parent for at least 6 consecutive months before the case was filed or since the child's birth.
  2. File the case in the circuit court in your county.
  3. To start proceedings, a complaint and specific documents must be filed, including:

Custody Determinations

When parents can't agree, the court decides custody determination, including whether there's already an established custodial environment with either parent, and determines the proper burden of proof which is applied to the "best interests of the child" factors.

  • The custody order will determine which parent will live with the child (physical custody) and which parent will make important decisions for the child (legal custody).
  • Sole custody means only one parent has custody; joint custody means that the parents share custody.
  • Parenting time (visitation) is generally applied to the parent who doesn't have physical custody.
  • The case concludes when the court issues a custody order.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Michigan Child Custody Forms and Process: Related Resources

Need Assistance with the Child Custody Process? An Attorney Can Help

The child custody process in Michigan can be daunting especially considering all the required forms. If you're facing a custody dispute, have an experienced attorney at your side who can help guide you on your journey to achieving your custody goals. Use FindLaw's attorney directory to locate one near you.

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  • Custody & child visitation cases are emotional, and a lawyer can seek the best outcome
  • A lawyer can help protect your children's interests
  • Lawyers can seek to secure visitation rights

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