Joint Custody – What Happens When You Don’t Agree?

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


In the majority of standard divorce cases in Michigan, the outcome of the custody arrangement is Joint Legal Custody, which means that regardless of how the physical custody is divided, both parents have equal say in how the child should be raised.


While physical custody means the actual location of the child as a person, joint legal custody refers to the major decisions made about the child’s upbringing. Issues 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 entitled, by law, to both get copies of their child’s medical records, school report cards and current photographs. They are both allowed to attend parent/teacher conferences, sports games and any school programs in which parents are invited to participate or attend.


But what happens when a divorced couple can’t agree on joint custody terms for their child? What do they do when one feels that their child should be on a certain medication and the other disagrees? Or when one wants to raise the child in a Judaic home, while the other is in favor of a Catholic upbringing?


The court holds a special hearing to decide on the contested issue.


According to Michigan’s custody laws, when two divorced parents who share legal custody of a child or children cannot agree on an issue, it falls to the court to decide what the outcome of that issue will be. A Lombardo Hearing is held, during which time the parents present their cases to a judge for resolution.


However, unlike a custody hearing where the court must consider the overall best interests of the child, a Lombardo hearing is different. This is where parents address a specific joint legal custody dispute, and the court is required to focus exclusively on the factors that are specific to that issue, and how it affects the child.


In most Lombardo hearings, one parent is attempting to change the status quo while the other is hoping to keep it the same. In these situations, the judge will look at who has primary physical custody of a child and whether or not there is an Established Custodial Environment, which simply means: a place or environment in which the child has been steadily for several months.


If neither of these factors are affected by the proposed change, then the parent who is proposing the change is required to prove that the change is in the best interests of the child. A judge will almost always make a decision based upon they believe to be in the best interests of the child.
Situations like these require careful consideration from a skilled family law attorney. If you or a loved one are struggling with custody issues in Michigan, and need help from a family lawyer with decades of experience, call The Kronzek Firm at 517 886 1000. We are here to help you.


I went through my child custody case with open eyes believing that the courts would see the truth, but I was wrong. As a college graduate and current masters student I thought I could handle this on my own. I tried everything I could, filed motions, co-parented, begged for explanations and I got nothing. I felt lost, stressed, helpless, alone and backed into a corner. So after a heartbreaking moment I finally decided to seek help and I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I've ever made. When I met Stephanie she changed everything for me. She helped me in ways I never thought was possible going above and beyond what I ever expected a lawyer to do in order help me feel safe. Although I'm still in the process of my case I can say with an open heart and clear mind that having her assistance has changed my life. She puts my daughter first and I will be forever grateful for that. For the first time since this whole court mess started I finally feel like I can breath again and it's amazing. I would highly suggest this brilliant woman to anyone. So if you're considering getting a lawyer, or considering this it. They will absolutely help you in any way they can. I know they did for me.

Malinda on Google, 2016

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