Michigan Child Custody Factors:
Best Interests of the Child
In Michigan, children’s parents are free to reach their own mutual agreement regarding the terms of child custody and parenting time. Typically, any reasonable child custody arrangement that is agreed upon by both parents will be approved by the Judge.
But when parents cannot agree on child custody arrangements, “best interests of the child” factors are utilized by the Judge to decide any disputed issues that relate to the minor children.
In Michigan, The Child Custody Act of 1970, specifically sets forth twelve factors that a Judge uses to determine what is in the “best interests of the child”.
Best Interests of the Child Factors:
- The love and emotional bond that exists between the child and each parent.
- The ability of each parent to provide the child with love, affection, education, and guidance in their religion or creed (if any).
- The ability of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, other remedial care and other material needs.
- The length of time that the child has lived with one parent and/or in the same location in a stable environment, and the advantage of not disrupting this continuity.
- The family unit’s “permanence” or stability in the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of each of the parents.
- The mental and physical health of each of the parents.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- If the Judge considers the child to be old enough to express a preference, they will take into consideration the “reasonable preference” of the child.
- The willingness of each parent to maintain & encourage a close, continuing relationship between the child & other parent.
Note: The Judge will not penalize a parent who has withheld a relationship with the other parent in order to protect the child (or themselves) from sexual assault or domestic violence.
- Any history of domestic violence – even if the violence was not directed against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor(s) considered by the Judge to be relevant to the child.
Because of the complexity of Michigan’s child custody law, only an experienced family law attorney can fully explain your custody rights – and how these “best interests of the child” factors may apply to your situation. If you have a child custody matter in Oakland County, call Starla Zehr today. She is an understanding, aggressive and experienced family law attorney – and she will fight to ensure that you get the child custody that you deserve.