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Co-Parenting in Michigan: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Joint Custody and Shared Parenting in Michigan

Joint custody and shared parenting refers to when both parents retain legal custody of a minor child, sharing the responsibility for making decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare. According to Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) Section 722.27a, both parents have an equal right to the care and custody of their child. There is a presumption that joint custody is in the child’s best interest, unless one of the parents has a history of abuse or neglect. In order to establish joint custody, both parents must sign a parenting agreement that outlines the responsibilities of both parents.


Physical Custody in Michigan

In contrast to joint custody, physical custody refers to which parent the child lives with most of the time. Michigan has a presumption that both parents should have “frequent and continuing contact with both parents”, but if the court determines that one parent is the primary caretaker, that parent is typically granted physical custody of the child. The parents can also come up with their own agreement regarding physical custody.


Decision Making in Michigan Co-Parenting Plans

When parents are sharing the legal custody of their child, the main point of negotiation is typically how decisions about the minor child’s health, education, and welfare will be made. In most plans, both parents have to agree on major decisions, such as the child’s education and health care. However, one parent is typically granted “sole and exclusive authority” to make minor, everyday decisions. The terms of the decision-making process should be included in the parenting agreement, as should a process for resolving disagreements.


Child Support in Michigan

In Michigan, MCL Section 722.28 establishes the legal obligation of a parent to provide financial support to their minor child. According to this law, the parent who does not have physical custody of the child is required to pay the other parent a certain amount each month in exchange for providing for the needs of the child. The amount of the child support payment is determined by the Michigan Child Support Formula, which takes into account both parents’ incomes, their respective parenting time, and any childcare or medical expenses. It is important to note that the child support obligation continues until the child turns 18, or 19 if they are still in school.


Co-Parenting Expenses in Michigan

In addition to the amount of the monthly child support payments, the Michigan Child Support Formula also takes into account any additional “co-parenting” expenses. These expenses include things like educational expenses, extracurricular activities, childcare, and health care expenses that are not covered by insurance. Co-parenting expenses are typically split by the parents in proportion to their respective incomes. The exact terms of the co-parenting expense split can be contained in the parenting agreement.


Parental Rights in Michigan

In Michigan, both parents have legal rights regarding their minor child, regardless of their custody status. In addition to the right to make decisions regarding their child’s health, education, and welfare, both parents have the right to access the child’s school and medical records, and to be informed of major changes in the child’s life, such as marriage or graduation. They also have the right to participate in the child’s extracurricular activities and special events, unless a court order states otherwise.


Developing a Parenting Plan in Michigan

One of the best ways to ensure that both parents’ rights and obligations are taken into consideration when co-parenting is to develop a written parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document that lays out the details of how the parents will care for their child in both physical and legal terms. A parenting plan should include provisions regarding parental rights, decision-making, parenting time, visitation schedules, communication, and dispute resolution. When both parents sign the parenting plan, it creates a legally binding agreement under Michigan law.


Visitation Rights in Michigan

Visitation rights refer to the legal right of the parent without physical custody to have access to the child. Michigan law grants both parents the right to reasonable visitation with their child, unless the court determines that it is “detrimental” to the child. Additionally, if both parents cannot come to an agreement regarding visitation, the court can order a specific visitation schedule. In most cases, the court will prefer that the parents work out their own visitation schedule, as it usually takes into account the specific needs of the family.


Mediation in Michigan Co-Parenting Disputes

Under Michigan law, it is required that parents attempt mediation before going to court to resolve a dispute involving their minor child. Mediation is a process of dispute resolution where the parents meet with a neutral third-party to discuss the issue at hand and try to come to an agreement. In Michigan, all mediators must be accredited by the state and must follow certain standards and guidelines. The process is meant to be confidential and to encourage both parents to work together rather than relying on the court to decide the issue.



Co-parenting in Michigan is a process that requires careful attention to detail, as there are many legal rights and obligations that both parents must be aware of. Whenever possible, it is best to put a written parenting plan in place to ensure that both parents understand their rights and obligations. Developing a mutually agreed-upon plan can also help to prevent legal disputes by clearly outlining the roles, rights, and responsibilities of both parents.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

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