If you are involved in a child custody dispute in Michigan, you have probably heard the term the “best interests of the child.” What you may not know, however, is who determines those interests and what that determination may mean for your case. In most instances, Michigan courts base their decisions on child custody upon the “best interests of the child.” According to MCL 722.23, the court considers a number of factors when determining what constitutes a child’s best interests, including:
- 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 to continue 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 against or witnessed by the child.
- Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
These factors are taken in summation, meaning the court evaluates all the above factors when making decisions about what custody arrangement best serves the interests of the child.
In the case of a dispute between the parent(s) of a child and a third party, the court typically presumes that the child’s interests would best be served by being placed with his/her parent(s) rather than the third party, unless there is substantial evidence to prove otherwise.
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To learn more about how the court’s determination of “best interests” may affect your Michigan child custody case, please contact the Law Offices of Graham & Hubbert.