What is a custodial parent in Michigan?

In Michigan, a custodial parent is the the parent with whom a child spends the majority of overnights with during the course of a year. This definition is similar to that used by the Internal Revenue Service when determining dependent status for tax purposes.


In Michigan there are two types of custody, physical custody and legal custody. However, physical custody is a term no longer in popular use most likely for political correctness purposes. After all, no one really has “physical” custody of a child. Now the phrase “physical custody” and “custodial parent” are used interchangeably under Michigan law.

If you are interested in understanding more than just the basics, the following video, part of the Michigan Divorce Education Series will fill you in on the intricacies of the custodial parent in Michigan custody law.

Understanding Child Custody in Michigan video.

As a general proposition, the custodial parent will receive child support paid by the non-custodial parent without regard to the disparity of income.

Michigan court’s disfavor modifying custody when there is a custodial parent that the child(ren) have looked up to for the regular necessities of life. In fact, if a court recognizing one parent as the custodial parent (See: Established Custodial Environment) they will not modify an existing custody order without clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of a child to do so.

Similarly, in choice of school decisions, the court will typically give more weight to the custodial parent in deciding a choice of school issue.

The key learning in this article is being the custodial parent has its advantages.

About Findling Law

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I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles.  We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances.That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.

By:  Daniel Findling

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