If you are going through a divorce in Michigan and have children, it is vital that you understand the factors used to determine where a child should go in the state of Michigan. Here is a quick overview to some of the top factors that a judge takes into consideration when deciding custody.
The court will look and try to find evidence that shows if you have a loving and affectionate relationship with your child. They will try to figure out what type of emotional connection that you have with your child. Their main goal is to understand how your child is attached to you and what your relationship looks like.
#2 Ability To Nurture
Although it seems similar to examining your relationship, in the state of Michigan, your ability to nurture your child is a factor that the judicial system looks at separately from your relationship with your child. Your relationship refers to your child's attachment to you; your ability to nurture refers to your ability to provide your child with the emotional support, guidance and stability that your child needs.
Just because your child loves you, or you express love and concern for your child, does not mean that you possess or have proven to the courts that you can provide the type of nurturing that they deem necessary. For example, if you have a history of being violent towards others, even if you have a positive relationship with your child, your history of violence could call into question your ability to guide your child to make different choices than you have and for you to serve as a role model for your child.
They will look through the evidence that has been presented and try to figure out if you can provide your child with the guidance that they need to grow and develop in a healthy manner with the right social skills, or if there are influences or conditions in your life that will affect your ability to lead your child on a morally upright path.
#3 Ability To Meet Basic Needs
The court will determine if you are able to provide your child with a stable home, food and the additional accessories and supplies that your child needs to both survive and thrive.
They will compare your ability to meet your child's needs with the other parent's ability to do the same. This is not just about providing for your child's basic needs; it is proving that you can do so just as well as your child's other parent.
#4 Family Unit
Children are known to thrive when they are in stable environments. The judge will look at the environment that you provide, and see how many people are coming in and out of your child's life when they are with you.
For example, if you have had multiple live-in partners over a span of a couple of months, the judge may not deem your family unit stable. On the flip side, if you have lived with the same roommate for an extended period of time, and it doesn't look like things will change in the future, the judge may see your 'family unit' as being more stable. Basically, the judge does not want your child to grow up in a home where people are constantly moving in and out. Most judges are trying to find the most stable environment for your child.
#5 Parent's Moral Fitness
Moral fitness generally refers to issues such as past arrests or substance abuse issues that you have been known to have. However, this could extend to things as small as your ability to tell the truth or be faithful. If you are going through a heated custody battle, be prepared to defend your moral fitness and character against any charges that your ex-spouse may bring against you.
The judge will determine if past arrests and substance abuse issues could affect your ability to parent your child.
#6 Parent's Physical & Mental Health
You cannot be ruled out from getting time with your child just because you are ill in some way. However, it is a factor that many judges will take into consideration.
For example, if you are constantly in and out of the hospital, the judge may feel that your former spouse may be able to provide a more consistent environment for your child, and you be granted visitations but not physical custody. On the other hand, if you have a medical condition that you manage and does not interfere with your daily life, you may be able to share custody with your former spouse.
If you do suffer from serious physical or mental health issues, you will need to prove that these issues will not interfere with your ability to care for your child and demonstrate that you have all the support in place that you need.
#7 What The Child Wants
Finally, if your child is old enough to explain to a judge who and where they want to live with the judge will take that into consideration as well as the factors above.
It is your and your lawyer's job to provide the judge with the information they need to see that you are a fit parent. For more information of what the judge will consider, speak with an attorney like J. Scott Braden.
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