Child custody disputes are among the most emotionally charged and contentious issues that families can face. In Michigan, child custody decisions are based on the best interests of the child, with the goal of ensuring that the child’s physical, emotional, and developmental needs are met.

When parents are unable to reach an agreement on custody arrangements, the court will step in to make decisions on their behalf. The court will consider the statutory 12 best interest factors. when determining custody, including:

  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 to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, or 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 considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  10. The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents. A court may not consider negatively for the purposes of this factor any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child’s 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 relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

In Michigan, Courts will sometimes delineate types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, such as decisions regarding education, healthcare, and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to daily decisions about the child’s everyday routines.

In some cases, the court may award joint custody, where both parents share legal and/or physical custody of the child. In other cases, one parent may be awarded sole custody, with the other parent having visitation or parenting time rights.

Navigating child custody disputes in Michigan can be complex, but with the guidance of experienced family law attorneys, you can protect your rights and achieve a favorable outcome. If you’re facing a child custody dispute or have questions about family law matters in Michigan, don’t hesitate to reach out to us for assistance.