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Michigan Child Custody Revamp Proposal Sparks Domestic Violence Concerns


A joint custody bill that died in the Michigan legislature last year could get another look in 2019. That’s likely to prompt a new debate about the possible impact on victims of domestic abuse.

The Michigan Shared Custody Act would create a presumption that divorcing parents will share custody of their children. State Senator Jim Runestad (White Lake), the legislation’s previous sponsor, and other supporters say it would help avoid protracted custody battles and foster the child’s relationship with both parents. “The current system profits by pitting divorcing parents against each other in an ugly competition over who is the better parent,” Runestad said after a Michigan House committee approved the bill in 2017. “A child needs and wants both parents and nothing is more important to people than the right to take care of their child.” The legislation stalled in the House late last year. Runestad has since moved to the State senate after winning an election last November.

Some advocates for domestic violence victims are concerned about the presumption of a 50-50 custody split. They fear it will force parents who are being abused by their spouses to stay in the relationship so that the other spouse can’t have access to the child alone. “By our statistics, those kids are still in dangerous situations and it’s also putting the victim of the abuse back into a dangerous situation, whether it’s trading the kids off or just using the kids as an abuse tactic continuously,” Kimberly Scott, who runs a shelter for domestic abuse victims, told 9&10 News. Runestad says the measure would allow judges to scrap shared custody based on proof of domestic abuse.

Michigan Child Custody Law

Child custody cases can be complicated and stressful. That’s why it’s important that parents considering a divorce seek the advice of a seasoned family law attorney.

The primary question that courts are trying to answer in these cases—at least under the current law—is: What’s in the best interest of the child? That requires looking at the unique circumstances at play, including the child’s relationship with each parent and the parents’ individual ability to care for the child, among other factors.

Speak With a Grand Rapids Child Custody Attorney Today

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce or are grappling with a custody dispute in Michigan, it’s important to consult an experienced child custody attorney.

The Grand Rapids child custody attorneys at Kraayeveld Law have been assisting clients throughout Grand Rapids for more than a quarter of a century. Our lawyers combine decades of experience in complex matters to help people efficiently untangle their marriages. We pride ourselves on taking a personalized and strategic approach, understanding each individual client’s circumstances and needs. Contact us online or call 616-285-0808 to speak with an attorney today.