For a lot of people, the most stressful part of divorce is not knowing how it will affect their relationship with their children. While the emotional stress of marriage dissolution alone can alter how your children respond to you and your spouse initially, the outcome of your child custody arrangement can have more long-term effects. That’s why you need to know how to appropriately address child custody. After all, that’s the only way that you can make the strong arguments needed to protect your children and your relationship with them.
Michigan’s best interests standard
If you and your spouse can’t agree on a child custody and visitation arrangement, then a judge will have to decide the matter for you. In those circumstances, the judge will consider a number of factors to come to a decision that he or she believes furthers your child’s best interests. Those factors include:
- The relationship, including emotional ties, between the child and each parent
- Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s basic needs
- Each parent’s stability and the need for the child to remain in a stable placement he or she has been in for a significant period of time
- The character and moral fitness of each parent
- The health, both mental and physical, of each parent
- The child’s wishes if he or she is old enough and his or her reasoning is justified
- Any history of domestic violence, physical abuse, and neglect on the part of either parent
That might sound like a lot to address, but Michigan law also has a catchall provision that allows a court to consider any other factor that it deems relevant to the issue at hand.
What this means for you
If your facing a heated custody dispute, then you need to gather as much evidence as you can to address the factors identified above. You also need to be prepared to defend yourself, as your child’s other parent will probably try to paint you in a bad light. You need to gather and assess the evidence available to you and use it to craft compelling legal arguments. Legal assistance is available if you need it.