One of the most emotional and complex areas of family law is the issue of legal custody. These issues may involve religious upbringing, education decisions, and healthcare choices. A court may award both parents joint legal custody or one parent sole legal custody. The basis for determining legal custody is “the best interests of the child.” The best interests of the child standard is important because it is used by the family courts to determine if a Michigan child custody agreement is fair to the child, not just to the parents.
Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreement regarding legal custody. At Musser Love, P.C., we are experienced at negotiating, drafting, and reviewing Michigan child custody agreements using the best interests of the child standard as well as factoring in both sides’ desires and demands. If parents are unable to reach an agreement, the judge must decide custody by considering all of the best interest factors in the Michigan Child Custody Act.
Michigan Child Custody Act: Best Interests of the Child Factors
The Michigan best interest factors are as follows and apply whether parents are married or not:
- The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
- The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and the continuation of the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
- 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.
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
- The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
- The moral fitness of the parties involved.
- The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
- The home, school, and community record of the child.
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
- 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.
- Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed at or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be of relevance to a particular child custody dispute.
Child custody orders are modifiable. The court will consider the time the child has lived in a stable custodial environment and what is in the best interests of the child.
Our Michigan Child Custody Attorneys
Our attorneys are here to help you with all the aspects surrounding a child custody matter. If you need to amend a child custody agreement, we also handle post-judgment modifications, even if we did not handle your initial divorce. When it comes to child custody issues, our family law team is well regarded in the community. To learn more about our experience, please see our articles, which address the issues in a divorce, child custody, and other family law issues.
To learn more about child custody and the best interests of the child standard used by the firm and the Michigan courts, please see our FAQs. We take pride in staying abreast of family law issues and helping change the law by bringing new ideas to the courts that can help families with unique situations.
Musser Love in Ann Arbor, Michigan is ready to discuss your legal issue, please call one of our skilled attorneys at (734) 677-0776 or contact Musser Love online or via e-mail.