Child Custody in Michigan

Family Law Attorneys in Michigan

Michigan child custody laws provide for both physical and legal custody of minors or children under the age of 18 years old. Physical custody can be sole physical custody, joint physical custody, or a shared custodial arrangement between the parents and minor child or children. Legal custody is typically awarded to both parents, allowing them to participate equally in the educational, medical and religious decisions for their children.

If both parents agree upon a custody arrangement, the Court will generally approve a written order which states the terms of the agreement. The order must be signed by both parents, be consistent with Michigan state law, and presented to the Court for entry in order to be valid.

If the parents of a minor child or children are unable to agree on custody, the Court will make a decision regarding the custody arrangement and who will be awarded legal and physical custody. The Court will apply the “best interests of the child factors” of the Michigan Child Custody Act in making its decision. The case will first be referred to the Friend of the Court in the county where the child or children reside for an investigation and recommendation. If either party disagrees with the recommendation, an evidentiary hearing or trial will be scheduled.

If there is a custody order in place, the court must first find that there has been a “change in circumstances” before it will consider a request for a change in custody. If the court finds there has been a change in circumstances, then it will apply the “best interests of the child” factors in making its determination.

Best Interests of the Child Factors

In evaluating the “best interests of the child”, Michigan courts consider the factors found in the Michigan Child Custody Act, MCL 722.23 sec. 3. The court must consider and evaluate each of the following factors in making its decision:

  1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  2. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection and guidance and the continuation of the educating and raising of the child in its religion or creed, if any.
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care and other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  6. The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  8. The home, school and community record of the child.
  9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  10. The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
  11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against, or witnessed by, the child.
  12. Any other factor considered by the court to be of relevance to a particular child custody dispute.

The court will evaluate all of the above factors in deciding its custody award. All of the factors are to be given equal weight, however, some factors may not be relevant based on the age of the child or children involved.

Child custody disputes are emotionally charged and complex. Chapman Law Group is dedicated to providing guidance, support and assistance to anyone navigating through a custody dispute or litigation. Our experienced attorneys will provide you with the information, knowledge and compassion necessary to resolve any issue related to family law and custody cases.


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