Many fathers in Michigan these days play a greater role in child-rearing than fathers generally did 50 or more years ago. It is not unusual these days for fathers to play the greater role in caring for their child’s daily needs while their spouse climbs the corporate ladder. Still, if a father has been the child’s primary caregiver and is now facing divorce, he may be worried about how much time he will get to spend with his child once the divorce is finalized.
Are fathers at a disadvantage when it comes to child custody?
Some fathers may fear that they will not be awarded custody of their child simply because they are male, and the courts will always favor mothers over fathers. However, in Michigan mothers are not presumed to be the best parent to award custody to in every circumstance. Instead, child custody decisions are based on the “best interests of the child.”
What are the “best interests of the child” factors?
When there is a child custody dispute in Michigan, the court will consider the best interests of the child when determining how to award custody and visitation time. The court will consider the bond between each parent and the child, as well as each parent’s ability and willingness to provide the child with love and guidance, as well as meet the child’s basic needs.
How long the child has lived in the family home and whether it is desirable to keep the child there will be considered as well. Each parent’s moral fitness, mental health and physical health will be considered. If the child is able to express a reasonable preference regarding which parent they want to live with, this may be considered.
Each parent’s willingness and ability to support the child’s relationship with the other parent will be considered. Whether domestic violence is an issue will be considered. Finally, courts will consider any other relative factors regarding the dispute at issue.
The child’s needs should always come first
The purpose of having a “best interests of the child” standard is to ensure that the child’s needs are met in the most fulfilling way possible. Parents in Michigan naturally may be upset at the idea that there will be times when their child is not in their care. However, by fostering a positive relationship with both parents, the child can grow and thrive post-divorce.