Every time a Michigan family court has to evaluate a custody case and make a determination, the decisions are always made based on what the court thinks is in the best interest of the child. To help the judge make the right determination, there’s a standardised list of twelve ‘best interest factors.’ However, if you were to read that list, you’d notice that one one of those factors is ‘moral fitness’.
So what exactly is ‘moral fitness?’ Well, that’s a tricky one. Determining a person’s ‘moral fitness’ ‘ is a very difficult job. Why? Because moral fitness, by its very definition, is subjective. That means it’s often based purely on the opinion of the person passing judgement. However, where the court’s concerned, there actually is a more general understanding of moral fitness, which is used to make the determination.
So how does the court judge ‘moral fitness’ in custody cases?
For example, a judge doesn’t determine moral fitness based on someone’s personal or religious beliefs, as long as those beliefs aren’t harmful to a child. It’s much more common for a judge to use a person’s actions as indicators of their moral fitness, rather than what they think or feel is acceptable.
Under the Michigan child custody law, and the Michigan parenting time law, these things could all count as evidence of someone’s ‘lack of moral fitness’:
- if you have a criminal record, including what you were convicted of, and how recently the conviction happened.
- whether or not you introduced your child/children to a new relationship partner before your the divorce was made final
- evidence of substance abuse problems, like drug use or alcoholism
- a poor driving record (including drunk driving, or simply lots of speeding tickets) which can indicate poor decision making skills and a disregard for the law
- a history of domestic violence
- any prior allegations of child abuse, neglect or endangerment
- regular use of foul language in the presence of the child / children (in other words, cussing in front of your kids)
Don’t worry! You aren’t going to be expected to be perfect!
Everybody has problems they deal with in life, and no one is perfect. Judges are people too, and they know there are no ‘perfect parents’ in the world. What matters most is that parents can provide their children with safe, loving environments, and good examples to look up to. In truth, most parents would be considered to be morally fit by the standards of the court.
However, it’s sadly not uncommon for allegations of morally unfit behavior to come up in custody battles. Many parents use the other parent’s mistakes or moments of weakness as a bargaining tool during the custody battle. Why? Because they’re hoping to skew the court’s perspective of the other parent, and get themselves a bigger slice of the custody pie. (which usually also means a bigger slice of the child support payment pie as well!)
But you do need to protect yourself during a custody battle!
If you’re engaged in a custody struggle and concerns over your moral fitness have been raised, contact us immediately. The experienced family lawyers at The Kronzek Firm are available 24/7 to help you handle custody issues, and any other problems you’re facing as a result of divorce. Whether it’s false allegations of abuse, lies about your character, or some other manipulation your ex is using to make you look bad in court, we can help you! Call 866 766 5245 today and talk to someone who can make a difference.