In part one of this series on gaining custody of your children, we looked at how a custody agreement is usually reached, and what the court considers important when changing custody agreements. Moving on, we’re going to look at what determining factors the court uses to make custody decisions.
First, a Friend of the Court hearing will take place. A judge, magistrate, or referee will usually be the person in charge. The hearing will provide an opportunity for both parents to give testimony. Also, testimony may be provided by others, including family members, teachers or caregivers, and any expert witnesses hired for that purpose.
Also, evidence will be reviewed at this time, if there is any. Evidence can include school records, medical records, a psychological evaluation (if one was performed) and any other relevant documents. It’s important to note that the court can only view these documents if consent has been provided by both parents, or if the records are admitted into evidence under the Michigan Rules of Evidence.
In deciding how to assign custody of a child, there are a number of factors that the court takes into account. Obviously, the “best interests of the child” supersedes everything else. But there are twelve specific factors that can affect the court’s decision, too.
The 12 factors considered by the court in determining child custody:
- The love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and the parents
- The involvement of each parent in the day-to-day life of the child
- The ability and willingness of each parent to meet the child’s basic physical and medical needs
- The safety and security of each parent’s home
- The permanence and stability of each parent’s home
- The moral fitness of the parents
- The mental and physical health of each parent
- The home history and school record of the child while in each parent’s home
- The preference of the child (age permitting)
- The willingness of the parents to support a relationship between the child and each other
- A history of abuse or domestic violence exposure
- Any other factors that may affect the “best interests of the child” in determining custody
It is important to remember, however, that every case is unique. Brandy Thompson, one of our most sought after family law attorneys here at the firm, suggests that parents keep in mind that not all factors are weighed equally and not all factors are relevant in each case.
We hope this has been helpful in giving you a rough overview of what the court is going to consider important when it comes to child custody. However, while internet advice can be helpful, we highly recommend that if you are considering a change in your custody agreement, you contact an experienced family law attorney today to discuss your case. Especially when you are faced with emotionally difficult issues like custody.