Physical custody in Michigan

Physical custody in Michigan:  By: Daniel Findling

Physical custody in Michigan explained.

Unlike legal custody, which awards a parent with access to the educational, medical, religious and other pertinent records of the child.  Physical custody in Michigan is not easily defined.


The problem with defining Physical custody in Michigan arises from the current child custody statute.  The statute is called the Child custody Act of 1970 and can be found in Michigan Compiled Laws section 722.26a.

Physical custody in Michigan is generally defined as where a child lives on a day to day basis.  If a child spends the majority of the time with one parent, traditionally, that parent was awarded sole physical custody in Michigan and the other parent was awarded parenting time.

Since the Child Custody Act of 1970 does not define physical custody in Michigan, courts have taken on new names to describe the same thing.  It is not uncommon for a court to award the parties joint physical custody in Michigan and then add a condition that one parent is identified as the “custodial parent”, “primary custodial parent” or “primary provider”.  Other courts use the phrase “primary residence” to describe where a child lives on a day to day basis.  From a practical standpoint, these politically correct definitions mean the same thing as sole physical custody in Michigan.  Simply, with which parent does the child live on a day to day basis?

Sole physical custody vs. Joint physical custody in Michigan

Although sole physical custody in Michigan was once the norm, as discussed above, courts now seem to favor the label “joint physical custody”.  Notwithstanding, Michigan law provides that if parents cannot agree on essential decisions, sole custody should be awarded.  Fisher v. Fisher 118 Mich App. 227 (1982).

Child custody cases in Michigan can be contentious.  In many cases parents can agree on custody and parenting time.  Prior to making an agreement, you should understand the law as it effects your situation.  Here is a great link on Child Custody in Michigan.

Change is rarely easy, sometimes complicated and often emotional.   Our Michigan divorce attorneys are experienced in family law.  We utilize a team approach to focus on solutions by applying Michigan law properly.  We specialize in helping you focus on your goals, protect your property interests, manage your custody and support interest, and keep you happy in life’s most difficult circumstances.

Our commitment is to solve problems at an affordable cost. We love to settle cases, but are not afraid to fight.

We want to help you manage your situation. Let our exceptional legal team help you . . .


Daniel Local: +1 (248) 399-3300 – toll free:   (877-YOUR FIRM)

After hours emergency?:  +1 (707) 968-7347

Or email me at:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Call Now Button