Parents want the best for their children, but during a divorce, they may disagree as to what that entails. As such, they may struggle to reach parenting agreements on their own, placing the decision in the hands of the courts.
Understanding the factors judges may contemplate when deciding Michigan child custody cases may help parents prepare for negotiating their custody and visitation arrangements.
The best interests of the child
To make custody decisions in Michigan, the courts consider the best interests of the child involved. According to state law, the factors considered in child custody disputes may include the following:
- Each parent’s physical health, mental health and moral fitness
- Each parent’s capability to provide for the child’s needs
- The existing emotional ties, love and affection between the child and each parent
- The child’s community, home and school ties
- The intention of maintaining continuity and stability for the child
Judges in custody cases may also consider previous domestic violence records and each parent’s commitment and capacity to encourage and help maintain an ongoing relationship between the child and his or her other parent.
The child’s preferences
According to the Michigan Supreme Court, family law courts may also consider the reasonable preference of children in custody cases. To assess reasonable preference, the court may account for the child’s age, maturity and preference consistency. For example, judges may look at whether children understand their decision and if they have previously expressed this preference or if it resulted after spending time with one parent or the other.
Unless granted emancipation, children under the age of 18 cannot legally decide for themselves where they prefer to live.