In part one of this series on gaining custody of your children, we looked at how a custody agreement is usually reached. We also talked about some factors that the court considers important when changing custody agreements. Moving on, we’re going to look at what determining factors the court uses to make child custody decisions.
When parents can’t agree on custody, the court steps in…
First, a Friend of the Court hearing will take place. A judge, magistrate, or referee will usually be the person presiding over your case. The hearing provides a chance for both parents to give their testimony. Also, testimony can be provided by others in support of either parent. This could include, 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.
What are the 12 steps used by the court to determine a child’s best interests?
In deciding how to assign child custody or parenting time, there are several factors the court takes into account. Obviously, the “best interests of the child” supersedes everything else. However, there are twelve specific factors that can affect the court’s decision, too. (Please note that not every factor is relevant to every case, and Judges handle each situation differently depending on the needs of each family involved!)
The “child’s best interest” factors are as follows:
- 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
Are you trying to get custody of your children here in Michigan?
We hope this has been helpful in giving you a rough overview of what the court may consider important when it comes to child custody. However, while internet advice can be helpful, we highly recommend that, if you’re 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.
Join us next time, as we take a look at how these factors could affect your chances at getting custody. We’ll also be discussing other issues that may impact your ability to get custody of your children. Until then, if you have questions about child custody, or any other aspect of family law in Michigan, like divorce, separation of property or personal protection orders, call us at 866 766 5245. We are here to help!