Child custody is the most emotional and difficult aspect of the divorce process. There are different forms of custody, including sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, primary custody, etc.
Child Custody in Michigan
There are two prongs of custody: Physical and Legal. Physical custody pertains to where the child resides. Legal custody pertains to the parent’s right and obligation to make decisions for his/her child, such as medical care, schooling, religious upbringing, and all other legal decisions.
What is Child Custody?
In general, legal custody is awarded jointly to both parents. In many cases, the determination of physical custody is the more difficult issue. The basis for determining physical custody is by evaluating what is in the best interest of the child. This standard is gender neutral, meaning both mother and father are on a level playing field.
Michigan Child Custody Factors
The court evaluates the following factors in determining what is in the child’s best interest:
1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child;
2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any;
3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs;
4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes;
6. The moral fitness of the parties involved;
7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved;
8. The home, school, and community record of the child;
9. The reasonable preference of the child. If the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;
10. The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents;
11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child; and
12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
These factors are the law and can be found at MCL 722.23.
Once there is a child custody order in place, it may only be modified by showing there has been a change of circumstances sufficient to justify a change in custody. It is very difficult to modify custody once it has been established. For this reason, it is imperative that you consult with an experienced attorney who will assist you in obtaining the best possible outcome with regards to custody.
Free Consultation with a Child Custody Attorney
For more information about divorce and family law, or to retain The Divorce Attorneys of Michigan, please call us at 248-785-3634.