Some Michigan parents are eagerly anticipating the upcoming vote on a new bill designed to level the field for divorcing parents. Currently, family law courts are bound to 45-year-old statute requiring parents to battle for shares of child custody. The bill is slated for vote sometime this fall, and if it passes, courts will be encouraged to presume equal custody for both parents whenever possible.
House Bill 4691 would automatically grant 50/50 custody in situations where the fitness of a parent is not in question. Currently, the courts must evaluate each case, often resulting in parents battling for the right to participate fully in the upbringing of their children. With no laws or standards guiding a judge in making decisions about who is a good parent and who is not, parents often find themselves tearing each other down in court to preserve their own rights.
The bill is not without its critics. Victims of domestic violence fear that their abusers will automatically be awarded 50 percent custody, potentially placing their children in mortal danger. However, advocates for the law assure parents this will not be the case. Evidence of domestic violence immediately precludes any presumptive portion of custody, and the victim will be able to argue for full custody.
Studies consistently show that shared child custody is beneficial for divorced families when both parents are devoted to the well-being of the children. Michigan lawmakers finally understand that positive shared parenting is more probable when a couple does not have to battle over their children in court. Nevertheless, every custody issue is unique, and those facing divorce are prudent to seek legal assistance from a dedicated attorney.
Source: fox17online.com, "50/50 child custody bill sparks heated debate in Grand Rapids", Bob Brenzing, Aug. 11, 2017