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Proposed Michigan “Shared Custody Act”

In Georgia, there is "no presumption in favor of any particular form of custody, legal or physical, nor in favor of either parent." O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(1). This means that, in a custody dispute, the scale is not automatically tipped in favor of one parent over the other nor is it tipped in favor of joint custody over one parent having primary custody. Rather, the Judge "may take into consideration all the circumstances of the case"…"to determine solely what is for the best interest of the child and what will best promote the child's welfare and happiness." O.C.G.A. § 19-9-3(a)(2). The Judge's discretion in awarding custody in this manner results in many varied custody and visitation arrangements that are particular to the needs of each case.

Some Michigan lawmakers are trying to change the custody presumption in their state. Recently, lawmakers proposed a "Shared Custody Act" which "would require Judges to start custody proceedings with a presumed 50/50 split between 'two actively-involved' parents." Lawmakers Propose "Shared Custody Act" for Divorced Parents, by Melissa Heckscher,, August 21, 2017. Under this proposed law, the Judge would start with a 50/50 split, and the parties would then each have the burden of showing why that arrangement would not be best for the children.

Proponents of the law say that this proposed bill seeks to modernize divorce laws and give both parents an equal starting point. Opponents are concerned that it could result in an abusive parent getting more custodial time and, thus, putting the children in danger. If the end result is still the best interests of the children involved, however, and their best interests are not served by a 50/50 split, then that split will not be awarded. If it passes, the Shared Custody Act may not result in substantial changes to custodial arrangements; however, starting with a presumed 50/50 split may result in the noncustodial parent getting more time with the children than they would have absent the presumption.


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