Michigan Laws in Child Custody

Jun 16, 2016

The following excerpts highlight some of the concepts that factor into Child Custody decisions in the State of Michigan.

Best Interests of the Child

Parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the best interests of the child. “Best interests of the child” means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:

  1. (a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  2. (b) 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. (c) 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. (d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  5. (e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  6. (f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  7. (g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  8. (h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
  9. (i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  10. (j) 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.
  11. (k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  12. (l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

-From Section 722.23 of the Michigan Revised Statutes

Factors in Determining Visitation

Michigan refers to visitation as “parenting time”. According to Michigan statutes, the court may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted:

  1. (a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
  2. (b) Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.
  3. (c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
  4. (d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
  5. (e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time.
  6. (f) Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
  7. (g) Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
  8. (h) The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
  9. (i) Any other relevant factors.

During the time a child is with a parent to whom parenting time has been awarded, that parent shall decide all routine matters concerning the child.

-From Section 722.27b of the Michigan Revised Statutes

Agreement by the Parents

If the parents of a child agree on parenting time terms, the court shall order the parenting time terms unless the court determines on the record by clear and convincing evidence that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child.

-From Section 722.27b of the Michigan Revised Statutes

Joint Custody

“Joint custody” means (a) that the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents, and (b) that the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

The court shall determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child by considering the following factors:

  1. (a) The factors listed above for “Best Interests of the Child”.
  2. (b) Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.

If the parents agree on joint custody, the court shall award joint custody unless the court determines on the record, based upon clear and convincing evidence, that joint custody is not in the best interests of the child.

Joint custody shall not eliminate the responsibility for child support. Each parent shall be responsible for child support based on the needs of the child and the actual resources of each parent. An order of joint custody, in and of itself, shall not constitute grounds for modifying a support order.

-From Section 722.26a of the Michigan Revised Statutes

Access to Records

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a parent shall not be denied access to records or information concerning his or her child because the parent is not the child’s custodial parent, unless the parent is prohibited from having access to the records or information by a protective order. “Records or information” includes, but is not limited to, medical, dental, and school records, day care provider’s records, and notification of meetings regarding the child’s education.

-From Section 722.30 of the Michigan Revised Statutes