Child Custody and Adoption

Family Law Attorneys Representing Traverse City and Grand Rapids Residents

Your children are likely among the most important people in your life. Many parents feel anxious about the impact of a divorce on their children. Children in Michigan may in fact be adversely affected by a contentious divorce or a poor fit in an adoption. On the other hand, when tensions are minimized, and both parents put their best efforts forward, children may continue to thrive in these situations. At the Neumann Law Group, our family law attorneys can help our clients with these sensitive matters. Let Grand Rapids and Traverse City child custody lawyer Kelly Neumann guide you through the legal process.

Navigating Child Custody and Adoption Matters

In some cases, the parents may agree on a custody and parenting time plan. However, in other cases, the parents may strongly disagree. They may be able to work it out with the help of an experienced attorney. However, if the parents are unable to agree, a judge must determine custody and parenting time by analyzing the best interests of the child under the Michigan Child Custody Act. A judge must approve any agreement made by the parents related to custody and parenting time.

In order to determine a child's best interests, the court will hear from each parent on their vision of an optimal custody and parenting time arrangement, and the court may also evaluate school or medical records when the parties agree to this, or the records are admitted into evidence. Generally, judges value stability and allowing a child to have access to both parents. If there is an established custodial arrangement that you want to have changed, you will need to submit more evidence to obtain a change.

There are 12 factors used by judges to assess the best interests of a particular child, but they may not all be given equal weight. The factors are the existing emotional ties between the parents and the child, the capacity of the parents to give the child love, guidance, and affection with attention paid to raising the child in their religious beliefs, the desirability of maintaining continuity and providing a stable environment, the permanence of an existing home or homes, moral fitness, the parents’ and the child's mental and physical health, the child's community and school record, the child's reasonable preference if they are mature enough to express a preference, the willingness of each parent to encourage a relationship with the other parent unless a parent needs to protect the child from sexual or domestic violence, domestic violence, and any other relevant factors. In some cases, the court will refer custody issues to a Friend of the Court office for investigation and recommendations. When nobody objects to a recommendation, it may become a final order in your custody case.

There are many types of adoption that may be available in Michigan, including infant adoptions, adult adoptions, state and court ward adoptions, step-parent adoptions, and relative adoptions. In an infant adoption, it may be possible to temporarily place a child in a prospective adoptive home immediately after their birth, while legal proceedings are underway. Parents may also select an adopting parent or consent to the adoption of their child by someone who is unrelated. They may also get the help of a child-placing agency or attorney.

Typically, the prospective adoptive parent petitions the court to adopt a particular child in the county where the adoptive parent lives or the child has been found. The child's biological parent, a child-placing agency, a court, or DHS must provide consent. An investigation will be ordered to make sure that the adoptee's best interests are protected. If they are, the court will terminate the rights of the biological parent, agency, court, or DHS and order placement in adoption. Usually, the placement is supervised or monitored for six months. At that stage, if the court finds that the placement is in the child's best interest, the court enters an adoption order.

Discuss Your Situation with a Child Custody Lawyer in Grand Rapids or Traverse City

Child custody and adoption matters may be emotional for parents who may be uncertain about what the future may bring. In most cases, a parent should retain legal representation to make sure that the process goes smoothly and that the child has a strong chance for a good long-term outcome. The Traverse City and Grand Rapids child custody attorneys at the Neumann Law Group also represent people in Ann Arbor, Flint, Lansing, Kalamazoo, Detroit, Wyoming, Saginaw, Muskegon, Midland, Holland, Warren, and Petoskey, as well as throughout the Upper Peninsula. Contact us at 800-525-NEUMANN or use our online form to set up a free appointment with a custody or child support lawyer.

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