Preparing for the child custody process can be challenging. For that reason, divorcing parents should prepare themselves by understanding how child custody is determined in Michigan with a focus on what is in the best interests of the child.
The best interests of the child standard
The best interests of the child standard is used to determine what child custody arrangement will benefit the child’s overall well-being and achieve their overall safety. A variety of factors are evaluated to determine what is in the child’s best interest. These factors include:
- The emotional ties and affection between the parents and the child;
- The capacity of each of the parents to provide affection, guidance, love and a continuation of the child’s religious upbringing;
- The ability of the parents to provide the child with basic necessities including food, clothing and care;
- The length of time the child has been in a stable environment and the desired continuity of maintaining the environment;
- The permanence of the existing or proposed housing for the child;
- The mental and physical health of the parents, along with their moral fitness;
- The home, school and community history of the child;
- The reasonable wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s age and ability to express their preference;
- The willingness of each of the parents to encourage and facilitate a close ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent;
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse; and
- Any other relevant factor.
How legal guidance may help
Because the list of factors it is possible the family law court will review is long, divorcing parents should be familiar with what will be considered. Along with the family law court, parents should also use what is in the best interests of the child to guide child custody decisions and to help facilitate the child custody process as they navigate its challenges.