At What Age Can a Child Choose Who to Live with in Michigan?

At What Age Can a Child Choose Who to Live with in Michigan?

Going through a child custody battle can be one of the most overwhelming and emotionally challenging experiences of a parent’s life. In addition to the significant change of separating from your spouse, you may be consumed with anxiety about whether you will be able to continue living with your child and how much time you will get to spend with them. 

Many parents are understandably eager to know at what age a child can decide which parent to live with after a divorce in Michigan. However, unless they’ve reached the age of 18 or are an emancipated minor, they do not legally have a choice as to where they live.

Instead, Michigan considers several factors when determining who should have legal custody of the child. Working with an experienced Michigan divorce attorney can help you understand these factors and fight to secure a favorable outcome for you and your child.

What Elements Does a Court Consider When Determining Child Custody?

Michigan courts tend to prefer that parents reach child custody agreements between themselves. However, parents sometimes have disputes they cannot resolve without court intervention. As such, the Michigan Child Custody Act has established the following 12 factors for judges to consider when deciding which parent will have physical custody of a child:

  • The emotional connection between the parents and the child 
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to meet the child’s emotional, educational, and religious needs
  • Each parent’s ability to meet the child’s physical and healthcare needs 
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment and whether continuity should be maintained 
  • The familial permanence of the current and potential homes
  • Each parent’s moral fitness
  • Each parent’s physical and mental health
  • The child’s records at home, in school, and within the community
  • The child’s preference, if they are old enough to reasonably express it
  • Each parent’s willingness and capacity to develop a close and continuing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Whether the child has experienced or witnessed domestic violence
  • Other factors the court considers relevant to the dispute in question

How and When Does the Court Consider a Child’s Preferences?

While a child’s preference is one of the factors considered by Michigan courts when determining custody, it is not the only or most important factor. The court will take the child’s preference into account if the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express a reasonable preference.

However, there is no specific age at which a minor child’s preference becomes legally binding. Instead, the court will assess the child’s mental and emotional capacity to make an informed decision on a case-by-case basis. Generally, the older the child, the more weight the court will give to their preference.

Contact a Michigan Child Custody Attorney Today

If you are in the process of getting a divorce and are unable to agree on custody terms with your spouse, it is essential to work with a skilled and experienced Michigan child custody attorney. The compassionate legal team at The Smith Law Offices has been helping divorcing Michiganders achieve successful outcomes in their child custody cases for nearly 15 years. With us on your side, you optimize your chances of securing the promising post-divorce future you and your family deserve. Call us today or contact us online for a confidential consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

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