Grandparents Custody Rights in Michigan

By Mark Vansetti

Under Michigan law, grandparents are not awarded custody of a grandchild unless the court determines the parents are unfit to care for the child. In circumstances where grandparents are not awarded custody, the court may still enter an order for visitation with the grandparents, known as grandparenting time. Michigan's Child Custody Act dictates the particular circumstances when a grandparent may ask the court for grandparenting time and indicates what the grandparent must prove to receive it.

Under Michigan law, grandparents are not awarded custody of a grandchild unless the court determines the parents are unfit to care for the child. In circumstances where grandparents are not awarded custody, the court may still enter an order for visitation with the grandparents, known as grandparenting time. Michigan's Child Custody Act dictates the particular circumstances when a grandparent may ask the court for grandparenting time and indicates what the grandparent must prove to receive it.

Best Interests of the Child

Michigan recognizes that parents have a constitutional right to have custody of their children. When courts make a determination regarding child custody and parenting time, the court must take into consideration the best interests the child. To do so, the court will analyze any factor it considers relevant. Under the law, the court must consider the emotional ties with the parents, the parent's capacity to provide love, affection, guidance, food, clothing and medical care, and whether there is a history of domestic violence in the home. The court must also take into consideration the child's preference, how long the child has been in a stable home, child's home, school and community record, as well as the moral fitness and mental and physical health of all parties.

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Petition for Custody

If a grandparent wishes to ask the court for custody on the basis the child's parents are unfit to care for the child, the grandparent must file a petition with the court. The court must consider the best interests of the child when determining custody. Also, the court must presume that awarding custody to the parents is in the best interests of the child unless another party, such as the grandparents, show that awarding custody to the parents is not in the best interests of the child. This must be proven by clear and convincing evidence, meaning the court must be thoroughly convinced.

Grandparenting Time Petition

In circumstances where a grandparent does not have custody, she may ask the court for visitation or grandparenting time in certain circumstances. Initially, the court will presume that a parent's choice to forbid grandparenting time is in the best interest of the child as long as that parent is fit for parenting. However, grandparents have an opportunity to prove to the court by a preponderance of the evidence that denying grandparenting time is harmful to the child. This means the court must find that there is a 51 percent chance or greater that denying grandparenting time is harmful to the child.

When Grandparents May Petition

A grandparent may ask the court for visitation when there is a divorce pending between the parents or when the child was born out-of-wedlock and the parents are not living together. Grandparents may also petition the court for grandparenting time when someone other than the child's parents have legal custody, the grandparent has cared for the child during the year prior to the petition or when the child's parent, who is a child of the grandparent, is deceased.

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Custody Rights of Grandparents

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Child Visitation Laws in Kentucky

Any parent who does not have custody of a minor child is entitled to visitation with the child, according to Kentucky law. However, a judge will limit or deny visitation if the court finds that visitation is not in the best interests of the child. For instance, a parent who is accused of abusing alcohol in the presence of the child could lose his visitation rights. Kentucky also gives grandparents the option to petition the court for visitation rights, which is not possible in every state.

Who May File for Joint Custody of a Minor?

Laws regarding child custody vary between jurisdictions. State laws and statutes govern how the court awards custody and how custody matters are defined and labeled. Generally, however, physical custody involves the day-to-day care of a child. Legal custody may overlap with physical custody and involves the right of a party to make decisions about a child’s health, education and welfare. Physical and legal custody can be either joint—shared by two parents—or sole, entrusted to only one parent.

Sole Custody Vs. Parental Rights in Michigan

A determination of the degree to which each parent should be involved in the raising of minor children is an important process, involving both fundamental rights as well as what is deemed best for the child. In Michigan, these issues can often be resolved by the parents in lieu of court intervention, or by order of a judge. Either instance can lead to joint physical or legal custody, but if one parent is awarded sole custody, the other parent may request parenting time. In addition, either parent may request a modification of custody if certain conditions have changed following the original order.

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