During a divorce, making custody decisions is never easy. However, putting the child’s interests first may make the process a little easier.
Whether the parents decide, or the courts do, decisions regarding child custody should take into consideration a variety of factors so that the child benefits the most.
Michigan guidelines for custody
According to the Michigan Supreme Court, either the parents can come to an agreement or a judge will make a custody order. Sole custody is when one parent gets primary legal and physical custody of the child. Joint custody is when the child is under the care of both parents, although the time spent with the child does not need to be an equal 50/50 split. Custody schedules for joint situations can vary greatly depending on the parents’ and child’s schedules and commitments.
Considerations for the child’s best interests
No matter who makes the final custody agreement, the custody order must be what is best for the child as opposed to what is best for each parent. According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, there are various factors to consider when making a custody determination. Some of the factors include:
- The physical, mental and financial abilities of each parent to provide a safe and loving home
- The child’s relationships with each parent, siblings, grandparents and caregivers
- The physical and mental needs of the child
- The current living situation
- The child’s age as well as academic and extracurricular activities
- The presence of violence, abuse or addiction in the home
In Michigan, the court also considers the wishes of the child, as long as the child is old enough and mature enough to understand the impact of the decision.