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Ann Arbor Child Custody Attorney

There are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal custody allows you to make medical and education-related decisions for your child. Physical custody helps determine the parenting time schedule.

Attorney Lana Panagoulia takes pride in creating specific, tailored parenting time arrangements to meet her clients' unique needs.

"A few Years ago, I was having trouble with my Ex-wife involving custody of my son. Several actions were committed by my Ex-wife that directly related to my son's safety and well-being. I called Lana on a Thursday morning and after hearing what my case was, she immediately began preparing motions and the very next day, I was in front of the Judge pleading my case. I was immediately granted temporary custody of my son and two weeks later, I was ultimately granted permanent full custody of my son. I could not have done this without Lana's professionalism and prompt services. I would highly recommend that you contact Lana Panagoulia if you are ever in need of a great Attorney." -Anonymous client on AVVO's

Michigan's 12 Best Interest Factors in Child Custody

Michigan law is concerned with promoting the best interests of the child. The Michigan Child Custody Act, MCL 722.21 et seq. and specifically at MCL 722.23 states that the "12 best interest factors" are:

(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 to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.

(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or 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 considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.

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

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

The 12 best interest factors control whenever a child custody dispute has been submitted to the family law court. The court must address all the best interest factors and analyze the relevant factors.

If there is an existing custody order, the family division judge has more work to do and to some attorneys, the task can be very difficult. You should know that the judgment may be modified for proper cause shown or a because of a change of circumstances. The Michigan Child Custody Act explicitly states the standard for modifying custody: "The court shall not modify or amend its previous judgments or orders or issue a new order so as to change the established custodial environment of a child unless there is presented by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interests of the child. "

An established custodial environment (commonly referred to by family law attorneys as the "ECE" is defined as, or exists "if over an appreciable time the child naturally looks to the custodian in that environment for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort." MCL 722.27(1)(c). Case law indicates that an established custodial environment may exist in more than one home. Therefore, if you are seeking to change "custody" because there is an existing order of the court, you should know that the court will need to first answer the following question: "Did the party who wants to change custody show the court "proper cause" or a "change of circumstances". If the answer is "yes," the court will then determine the established custodial environment. If the proposed custody order would change the established custodial environment, the court would need to find the change to be in the child's best interest by the higher standard of "clear and convincing evidence." If it does not change the established custodial environment, the lower standard of "preponderance of the evidence" would apply. This can be a tricky task and an experience attorney such as Lana Panagoulia will help you work your way through the Michigan Child Custody Act.

"Lana went above and beyond in my case. ... At a point in my life where I was at my lowest (my wife had left, took the children and had filed for divorce), she reassured me that everything would be all right and fought tooth and nail for me." - Anonymous client on AVVO's

Contact our office today to schedule an appointment with our Michigan parenting time and custody attorney. You can reach our office at 734.769.LANA (5262) or via e-mail.

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