Courts make decisions all the time that affect children. These decisions are often related to things like child custody, parenting time or visitation, child support, any future modifications to custody and support. These decisions are made in light of the best interests of the child.
At North Oakland County, Michigan Divorce Law, our family law lawyer in Michigan provides guidance to our clients and helps them understand what the best interest of the child means generally, and how it could affect their unique case specifically. Making sure our clients are informed helps them make better decisions, too. So, contact us online or at (248) 608-4123 to schedule a consultation.
What is the Best Interest of the Child Standard in Oakland, Lapeer and Macomb Counties?
To determine what is in the best interests of the child, a set of factors have been established to guide the courts. These factors are also meant as a way to objectively arrive at these decisions so that they are fairer and more consistent. MCL 722.23 codifies the best interests standard in Michigan and states as follows:
"best interests of the child" means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.(b) 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.(c) 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.(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. A court may not consider negatively for the purposes of this factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child's other parent.(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
As mentioned, these factors are the basis. With regard to factor (i), the judge may listen to the wishes of the child but may not act on those wishes unless the child is of a certain age and ability to state a preference.
Which Best Interests of the Child Standard Applies if Custody Involves Multiple States?
Child custody determinations are decided by state courts. Wherever the case is filed, typically that state's best interests of the child standard applies. In some cases, where a genuine question as to which state can enforce a custody order exists, uniform laws like the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act may control. That, too, is determined by the state.
Keep in mind, not all states have adopted these uniform laws, but most use them as guidance.
Contact a Family Law Lawyer in Michigan Today
The best interests of the child standard will greatly influence your child's life as well as yours. If you have questions, need advice, or want to file a complaint for divorce, child custody, or child support, contact North Oakland County, Michigan Divorce Law online or call us at (248) 608-4123 today.