I’ve Got Joint Custody But My Ex Is a Terrible Parent! (Pt. 1)

You love your kids and you want good things for them. But their other parent doesn’t seem to care!


It’s incredibly frustrating, isn’t it? You work soooo hard to be a good parent, to make sure that your kids go to bed on time, eat nutritious food, and get good grades in school. You even stay on top of their manners, working to ensure that your kids are respectful and polite. And then they head over to their other parent’s house for a weekend, or a week, and all your hard work unravels. It’s enough to make any caring mom or dad tear their hair out and cry!


This is a situation that comes up all too often for our clients, and we’re sorry to have to tell you, but there’s no magic ‘quick fix’ to solve it. But don’t lose heart, there are solutions if you’re willing to make some changes in the way you handle things, and even some options with the court if you believe your children are being horribly parented in a way that jeopardises their mental and emotional health. So let’s take a look…


Michigan family courts prefer joint custody where possible.


Countless studies over the years have proven that children do better in life when they have relationships with both parents. With that in mind, most Michigan family court judges will assign joint custody to a divorcing couple with children whenever possible. Obviously there are situations where that isn’t possible.


For example, where one parent is living in a place that isn’t big enough to house the children overnight, or where one parent has been accused of neglect or abuse. However, if both parents claim to want their children, and there’s no reason to suspect that either parent can’t properly care for their kids, the courts usually want both parents equally involved in their children’s lives.


Even when joint physical custody isn’t possible, joint legal custody might be.


Sometimes, when joint physical custody isn’t an option for a divorcing couple, the court still prefers to assign joint legal custody. The difference is that physical custody means where the child stays, while legal custody means the ability to make decisions made about the child’s upbringing. Things like religious studies, medical care, educational choices, and even sometimes discipline methods have to be agreed on by both of the parents.


Divorced parents who have joint legal custody are legally allowed to both get copies of their child’s medical records, school report cards, and current photographs. They’re also both allowed to attend parent/teacher conferences, sports games, and any school programs that parents are invited to participate in or attend. So even if you have primary physical custody of your child, your ex may still have a say in how they’re raised.


What can you do when you and your ex don’t agree on how to raise the kids?


This can be a very tricky issue. Even if you have sole, or primary physical custody, what options do you have if your ex has joint legal custody and you can’t agree on parenting decisions? What is your ex doesn’t want you to give your child a certain ADHD medication that you believe they really need? Or doesn’t agree with you taking your child to church because they believe your child should receive different religious instruction?

Join us next time for a break down of what your choices are in these types of situations. Until then, however, if you’re getting divorced and need help setting up your child custody agreement, or need your custody agreement modified, call The Kronzek Firm at 866 766 5245. Our experienced family law attorneys have spent decades helping Michigan parents to plan and prepare for their family’s futures. We can help you too.