Helping you cross the

legal finish line

Factors judges consider in a child custody case

A phrase that stands out in a Michigan divorce where the spouses in question have children together is “best interests of the child.” As the judge formulates his or her decisions in your case, this phrase will no doubt be a central focus. This is especially true regarding child custody issues.

Certain problems may arise if you and your ex disagree about the phrase, meaning one of you interprets what is best for your kids differently than the other. To achieve a settlement, you must reach an agreement. In some cases, if that is not possible, the judge will make a decision on your behalf, and you and your ex must adhere to the court’s orders.

Considering the children’s best interests in child custody proceedings

The following list shows numerous factors a judge overseeing a child custody case in a Michigan divorce might consider before issuing a ruling:

  • Mental competence of each parent
  • Financial status of both parents
  • Whether living with a particular parent will necessitate relocation
  • Which parent was the primary caretaker of the children during marriage
  • Each parent’s fitness, such as whether there are substance abuse problems or other issues that might render a parent unfit for custody

If you have legitimate cause to do so, you can petition the court for sole custody, both legal and physical, of your children. When considering this an option in a divorce, you must be prepared to demonstrate why you believe sole custody would best serve your children’s interests, as opposed to sharing custody with your ex.

If the court is considering a sole custody request

In addition to substance abuse, the issues in the following list are also reasons that the court would typically consider legitimate for seeking sole custody:

  • The other parent is abusive.
  • The other parent is incarcerated.
  • The other parent has neglected or abandoned the children.
  • The other parent’s lifestyle would place the children at risk.

If the court is convinced that your ex is unfit, it has several options, such as ordering supervised visitation or for your ex to enter a rehabilitation program. The court might grant you sole custody, without visitation privileges to the other parent. It is always best to clarify state guidelines regarding child custody before heading into proceedings and asking for sole custody. You can make this request, even after a court order has been issued for shared custody, if circumstances change and you believe it is best.