Mason County Michigan



A number of custody arrangements are possible.

Joint Legal Custody:  parents communicate and cooperate in mutual decision-making regarding major medical, educational, religious, and similar issues.

Joint Physical Custody: the child lives with one parent part of the time and the other parent part of the time, although not necessarily equal amounts of time.

Primary Physical Custody: the child lives primarily with one parent.

Sole Custody: the child lives with one parent and that parent is responsible for all major decision-making. 



Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreements regarding custody. When parents cannot agree, the court must decide by considering all of the following factors of the Michigan Child Custody Act:

(a)  The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child. 

 (b)The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and the continuation of the educating and raising of the child in its religion and creed, if any.

 (c)The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.

 (d)The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

 (e)The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.  

 (f)The moral fitness of the parties involved.

 (g)The mental and physical health of the parties involved.

 (h)The home, school, and community record of the child.

 (i)The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference. (j)The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent/child relationship between the child and the other parent.  

(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against, or witnessed by the child.

 (l) Any other factor considered by the court relevant to a particular child custody dispute.


If the parties do not agree to a custody arrangement, then a party may file a motion requesting a custody arrangement.  The motion may be filed by the party (Pro Se) or by the party's attorney.  It is important to note that custody cases involve complex issues and you may wish to have an attorney represent you.  If you decide to file your own motion, forms and instructions are available at the Friend of the Court office.  A $100.00 filing fee is required. The Friend of the Court cannot file a motion for you, nor can they provide you with an attorney.


The Friend of the Court's role in custody issues is to offer mediation services to the parties as an alternative method of dispute resolution. If the custody issue goes to court, then the Friend of the Court is often directed to conduct an evaluation and file a written report and recommendation based on the factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act.  Each party is entitled to receive a copy of the Friend of the Court's report and recommendation.


If the parties agree to a custody arrangement, the Friend of the Court will prepare a stipulation and order at no cost to the parties.


In most cases, domicile of a child may not be removed from the State of Michigan without approval of the court. If the parents agree to change domicile of the child, the Friend of the Court will prepare a stipulation and order at no cost to the parties. If the parties are not in agreement, then a party may file a motion through an attorney or by using a Motion Regarding Domicile form ( see FORMS page)  (Pro Se) from the Friend of the Court. A filing fee is required. Four factors are considered by the Court to determine whether changing domicile is in the best interest of the child: (1) whether the prospective move has the capacity to improve the quality of life for both the custodial parent and the child, (2) whether the move is inspired by the custodial parent desire to defeat or frustrate parenting time by the noncustodial parent and whether the custodial parent is likely to comply with the substitute parenting time orders where he or she is no longer subject to the jurisdiction of the courts of this state, (3) the extent to which the noncustodial parent, in resisting the move, is motivated by the desire to secure a financial advantage in respect of a continuing support obligation, and (4) the degree to which the court is satisfied that there is a realistic opportunity for parenting time in lieu of the weekly pattern which can provide an adequate basis for preserving and fostering the parental relationship with the noncustodial parent if removal is allowed.


Effective January 9, 2001, in addition to the change of domicile requirement, a parent of a child whose custody is governed by court order shall not change a legal residence of the child to a location that is more than 100 miles from the childs other legal residence at the time of the commencement of the action in which the order is issued. Both parents residences are considered to be the childs legal residences for the purposes of the provision. This does not apply if the childs 2 legal residences were already more than 100 miles apart at the time the custody order was issued. If a parent has sole legal custody of the child, the 100 mile requirement does not apply. Parents may agree to living in residences more than 100 miles apart. The factors considered by the Court to change a child legal residence are basically the same four factors used in determining a change of domicile plus a fifth factor reviewing domestic violence history.