Michigan Child Custody Issues
Child custody in Michigan has been an evolving legal matter over the last century. In Michigan, a long time ago, the father had absolute property right to the children then it changed to the mother having a preference as the best parent, now to the modern day standard in Michigan of "best interest of the child". In Michigan one parent cannot receive biological preference as the sole determining factor of custody.
Today, Michigan courts are required to adopt a gender neutral approach and assess the ability of each parent to care for their children. The Michigan family division looks to the Child Custody Act of 1970 to determine the child's custody, support and parenting time. Even if the parties come to an agreement about custody in Michigan, the court must still apply the best interest standard in determining whether or not to abide by the agreement of the parties. Even if a determination is made by the alternative dispute resolution process in Michigan, the court must still make their own determination.
In Michigan custody battles, parents, agencies and third parties including grandparents may have standing to seek custody. In Michigan the parent is given the presumption of custody, because it is presumed that it is in the best interest of the child to be with a parent unless there is clear and convincing evidence to establish custody with another person or agency.
A Michigan judge must examine the best interest of each individual child, but will keep the children together if that is indeed in the best interest of the child.
How does the court determine the "best interest" of a child in Michigan?
Trial courts are required to make "best interests" findings of fact in each of the following circumstances:
A Michigan court will look to the following things, which are laid out in MCL 722.23:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(j) 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.
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
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