The Different Types of Custody.

Court’s have created two different types of custody under Michigan law (Physical and Legal), there is really only one type of custody that has two parts. Let me explain.

Understanding the different types of custody under Michigan Law.


Ok, lets get into the weeds. Statutory laws are laws written by the legislature and in Michigan, the Child custody statute begins with Michigan Compiled Laws 722.26a which is also known as the joint custody statute.

The joint custody statute, 722.26a(7) specifically provides:

 (7) As used in this section, “joint custody” means an order of the court in which 1 or both of the following is specified:

  (a) That the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents.

  (b) That the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

MCL 722.26a(7)

However, laws are interpreted by Courts so there is a second type of law that is created by

The two different types of custody

So under statutory law, “custody” is made up of two parts: First, when the parents alternate parenting time? (See: MCL 722.26a(7)(a)) and second decision making authority (See: MCL 722.26a(7)(b)).

Michigan Court’s took the joint custody statute definition by describing a circumstance when one parent has the majority of parenting time (See: MCL 722.26a(7)(a)) as having “physical custody” a term that has since become disfavored, probably for political correctness purposes. Physical custody is now generally referred to as “parenting time“. Michigan Court’s described decision making authority as “legal custody” (See MCL 722.26a(7)(b)).

In sum, although court’s have created two types of custody (Physical and Legal), however, there is really only one type of custody that has two parts (The frequency of parenting time (MCL 722.26a(7)(a)) and decision making authority (MCL 722.26a(b)(b).

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