Custody cases can be some of the most difficult family court cases that judges have to decide in Michigan. Both parents believe they know what is best for their child, but the court must determine what is in the best interest of the child based on several factors. The judge can consider any factors that the judge determines to be relevant to determining the best interest of the child. Therefore, it is important to work with an experienced Michigan child custody lawyer who can help you understand the various factors that might affect your custody battle.
Five Factors That Impact Custody Battles
1. Physical and Mental Health of Each Parent
A parent must have the physical and mental ability to care for a child. The court may consider any physical or mental health factors that could impact the child, including anger management issues, substance abuse problems, chronic health conditions, and mental disorders. While a condition may not necessarily make a parent unfit, it can be considered in the overall determination of a child's best interest.
2. The Financial Means of Each Parent
A parent must also be able to provide for a child's basic needs, including housing, clothing, food, etc. The financial capacity of a parent is a factor, but so is the disposition of a parent. If a parent would rather spend money on the parent instead of providing for the child, this fact could negatively impact the parent's chance of obtaining custody of the child.
3. Involvement in the Child's Life
If a parent has been absent from a child's life, that could be a factor the judge considers when determining custody arrangement. Other incidents related to this factor include which parent takes off work to care for an ill child, who attends school functions, who is present for meetings with teachers, which parent takes the child to church, which parent is present for extracurricular activities, and which parent spends more hours each day with the child.
A working parent may not be penalized for working, but it could factor into the determination of which parent should have the child most of the time. Again, the overall consideration is what is in the best interest of the child, and a parent who is present is usually in the child's best interest.
4. The Child's Preference
A judge may consider the reasonable preference of a child when deciding custody issues. Children who are older or more mature may be given more weight when expressing their opinion as to which parent they prefer to live with most of the time. Younger children can be unfairly swayed and pressured, and judges are aware of this tactic.
5. Length of Time in a Stable Environment
Divorce can cause a great deal of upheaval for children. The desire to maintain a stable environment is another factor that can greatly impact a custody decision. If a child has been in a stable, satisfactory environment for a long time, a judge may determine that disrupting this environment would not be in the child's best interest.
Other Factors That Impact Custody In Michigan
There are 12 factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act that judges use to determine a child's best interest. It is important to carefully review each factor that could potentially impact your custody case with an experienced child custody attorney. Addressing weaknesses in any of the factors as soon as possible can help improve your chance of receiving the outcome you desire for your custody case.
Contact Our Michigan Divorce Attorney To Discuss Your Case
Custody issues are challenging. Discuss your concerns with our Michigan divorce attorney to develop a strategy to protect you and your children during the divorce action. Contact Michigan divorce attorney Cameron C. Goulding today.