Attorneys Wade Jackman and Patricia Kasody-Coyle headshot
Divorce and Family Law

Michigan child custody and a child’s best interests

In Michigan and across the United States, with the current national situation leading to an uptick in divorces, a growing number of people are dealing with family law concerns. When a couple decides to get a divorce, one issue with the potential to be contentious and complex is child custody. This is true even if the parents are on relatively good terms and may be able to negotiate. It is especially problematic if there is overt acrimony. From the beginning, it is useful to know how the process moves forward and how the law factors in.

Key points about a child’s best interests

Before advancing an argument as to which parent should have legal custody, physical custody or considering joint custody, the most fundamental part of a case is child’s best interests. This should be understood first and foremost. A child needs to be properly cared for. The court will assess if the parents are able to maintain an emotional bond with the child while facilitating and encouraging a relationship with the other parent regardless of personal feelings. The basics must be provided. That includes a safe place to live, clothing, medical coverage and education.

When the court decides on custody, it will look at the child’s past and the feasibility of maintaining some level of continuity. Health factors will be considered as will the parents’ moral fitness. In some cases, the child will be allowed to express a preference. The court will assess the child’s maturity and age before deciding how it should be weighed in the determination. If there are allegations of abuse or mistreatment, then this too will be a critical concern when the court gauges the child’s best interests.

The child should be the primary focus and experienced help may be needed

Parents can easily get caught up in their own desires regarding child custody. They can also allow lingering bad feelings about how the marriage ended cloud their judgment. Every case is different and should be viewed from the child’s perspective. No matter the circumstances, parents should be cognizant of their rights in the context of the child’s best interests. Having assistance with the case can help with devising strategies and trying to achieve a satisfactory resolution the parents can accept and serves the child’s needs.