Ending a relationship is never easy. Whether it was a lengthy relationship or short-lived or a marriage or cohabitation, parting ways with a partner can generate various disputes when it comes to dividing property and ensuring that each individual leaves the partnership with that is rightfully theirs. But this goes beyond just property division. If children are involved, this means determining a custody agreement that works best for the child as well as the parents.
Factors used to determine child custody
Much like other states, Michigan has specific factors used to determine child custody. These factors include, but are not limited to, the love, affection and emotional ties that exist between the child and each parent and their capacity to do so, the capacity for each parent to provide the child with necessities, the length of time the child has lived in a stable environment, the permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home, the moral fitness of the parents, the mental and physical health of the parents, the home, school and community record of the child, the reasonable preference of the child, the willingness of each parent to encourage a parent-child relationship with the other parent, domestic violence involved in the matter and other similar factors.
The input of the child
As stated above, the preference of the child can be a factor; however, this is likely only to be considered if the court considers the child or children involved to be of a sufficient age to express such a preference. The judge must establish, based on the age and maturity of the child, whether it is deemed a reasonable preference.
Reasonableness is determined based on the age of the child and consistency over time. Generally, the older a child is the better the understanding they have surrounding the circumstances as well as the court proceedings. Thus, judges will allow a child to express a preference; however, a child in the state of Michigan cannot legally choose where to live until they reach the age of 18 or are deemed legally emancipated.
With regards to consistency over time, a judge will consider whether a child has a history of expressing a reasonable preference. Thus, if a child has expressed over a course of a year or several years that they prefer to live with one parent over the other, a judge will take that into consideration. However, if a child has recently made this preference after spending and extended period of time with one parent, such as holiday or vacation, the court is less likely to consider that preference.
Child custody disputes are never easy. A parent’s love for their child is very prominent in this process, making it an emotional and challenging matter to work through. Therefore, parents going through a child custody matter should fully understand the situation, what options are available and what rights one has as a parent when it comes to meeting the best interests of the child.