The phrase custodial parent is not defined in Michigan divorce or custody law. However, the term has evolved to mean the parent that is awarded the majority of parenting time in a specific Michigan divorce or custody case.
Michigan statutes and case law have defined two types of custody in Michigan. Legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody is different than physical custody. Physical custody describes the time spent with each parent. Legal custody defines who can make major decisions regarding the child(ren) and is defined in Michigan Compiled Laws, section MCL 722.26a.
In the majority of Michigan cases, the parties are awarded joint legal custody. With joint legal custody, parents share decision-making with major decisions affecting the welfare of the minor child. During the time a minor child resides with a parent, that parent has the right to decide all routine matters concerning the minor child. Both parties are entitled to equal access to the educational, medical, religious, governmental, and other important records of the minor child.
The custodial parent
So where does the custodial parent fit in Michigan custody law? The phrase is neither defined in statute or case law. However, the phrase has become commonplace in describing physical custody less offensively. After all, physical custody is an old fashioned term. Do you really physically have custody of a child? Of course not. The use of the term custodial parent in lieu of physical custody is in part political correctness and in part simply a more accurate way of describing which parent has the majority of parenting time. Simply put, the custodial parent has the majority of parenting time with a minor child. Defining the custodial parent may impact the award of income tax exemptions for the minor child as well as child support.
About Findling Law
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By: Daniel Findling