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What factors are considered by the court in a custody decision?

There is a lot that goes into being a good parent. Detroit parents often work hard to earn a living and provide for their children. They also provide love, guidance and nurturing to their children, among other things.

After a divorce occurs and the issue of child custody is debated between the parents, many of these same types of issues are considered by the court when determining how to award custody. The sum total of all of these factors is known as the best interests of the child, which is perhaps the most important legal test when it comes to matters involving children.

There are several different best interest factors spelled out under Michigan law. For example, the love, affection and emotional ties that exists between the parents and children is one consideration, along with the capacity of the parents to provide love, affection, guidance and education for the children. Aside from these emotional considerations, the court also looks at the parents' capacity to provide food, clothing, medical care and other needs and the stability of the child's environment.

The court may also consider the moral fitness of the parents, their mental and physical health and the willingness of the parents to facilitate a relationship between the other parent and the children. Another factor looks at whether any domestic violence has occurred, which, as discussed last week in this blog, can result in major consequences if there are even allegations of such incidents.

Finally, the court may consider factors like the permanence of the existing home a, as well as the school and community record of the child. If the child is of sufficient age, the court may also consider the child's preference. Any other factors not expressly included in the statute can also be considered if relevant to the circumstances, as the court will ultimately use these factors to try to do what is best for the child's interests and needs in making this difficult decision.

Source: Michigan Legislature, "Child Custody Act of 1970," accessed on Mar. 5, 2016

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