As hard as a divorce is on the parents, it can be much more painful and devastating on the children. Where there are contentious issues such as custody and property division or a fight over the children’s loyalties, everyone comes out bruised.
But equally damaging to the children is a home environment where there is constant arguing and tension. And in the case of domestic violence, divorce is unquestionably the best outcome. Finding experienced legal counsel in Wayne and Oakland County, Michigan, that will prepare you for divorce and protect your parental rights is important.
Understanding custody laws in Michigan
As Michigan is a no-fault as well as a 50/50 child custody state, the court will divide custody and parenting time equally between both parties unless there are other mitigating factors, such as domestic violence or neglect.
The two basic types of custody are legal and physical custody. Legal custody allows the parent to make choices concerning medical treatments or doctors, educational or religious decisions on behalf of the child. Physical custody gives the parent the responsibility of taking care of the living arrangements for the child.
The judge will also determine sole and joint custody. One parent can be awarded both sole legal and sole physical custody, or both parents can share these responsibilities. With joint physical custody, the living arrangements are shared by both parents.
Deciding parenting time, visitation rights and custody arrangements depends on the circumstances of each case, with final determination made on the basis of what is in the best interest of the child.
The best interests of the child
In deciding custody cases, judges must consider 13 basic “best interests of the child” factors as outlined in the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970. Included in these considerations are:
- The love, affection and emotional ties between the child and each parent
- The capacity of each party to provide love and affection as well as to properly house the child with an adequate home environment, basic food, clothing and medical care
- The moral, mental and physical fitness of each party
- The child’s preference, if he/she is of a certain age to decide
- The willingness of each parent to encourage or facilitate the bonding of the child with the other parent
- A history of domestic violence or neglect
As each case is unique, it is important to consider all factors that will affect the wellbeing of your child. Above all, it is crucial to fight for custody arrangements that provide as much stability as possible.