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How does the court determine your child’s best interests?

Just as there is a general formula for figuring out how much child support you or your child’s other parent may pay, there are also criteria that the court uses when considering how custody should be arranged. Like you, the judge wants what is best for your child, but naturally does not have the same knowledge of your child, or a personal relationship that would provide this information. By examining the circumstances based on pre-set factors, biases can be set aside and the ideal division of parental responsibilities and time identified.

Michigan Legal Help notes that domestic violence, including emotional and verbal abuse in the home, is one issue that plays a part in the custody decision, as well as any criminal record or substance abuse issues. Any mental or physical issues that may prevent you or the other parent from providing adequate care for your child would also be noted. However, while any of these may affect whether the parent’s time with the child is supervised, these types of circumstances do not always result in no visitation at all.

The home environment plays a major role, so stability is important. It is likely that one parent has recently moved, but the reason for the move and the child’s adjustment to it are also taken into account. School and social life are two more areas where stable, continuing routines may help your child adjust after the changes of the divorce. With this in mind, the judge will probably want to know whether you or the other parent take a primary role in getting your child to and from school, helping with homework, encouraging extracurricular activities and ensuring that he or she spends time with friends.

Whether you are on good terms with the other parent or not, the relationship your child has with him or her is essential for emotional and psychological development. Except in the case of a situation that may be dangerous for your child, if you make it difficult for them to maintain that bond, it may reflect badly on you, and in favor of the other parent.

While this information is provided to give you an idea of what to expect, this is not an all-inclusive list, and every item may not be given equal weight by the judge who evaluates your case. Therefore, it should not be considered legal advice. 

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Lorrie J. Zahodnic

"I will hold you up until you can stand on your own two feet."

Lorrie J. Zahodnic, P.C. has provided skilled and compassionate legal guidance to Michiganders in family law matters for over 20 years.

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