ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
ARAG LEGAL PLANS ACCEPTED
The Child Custody Act of 1970 requires the court to assess the ability of individual parents to care for their children. The act standardizes the criteria for the best interests of the child and creates a comprehensive framework for decisions regarding child custody.
The Best Interests of the Child
MCL 722.23 defines the best interests of the child as follows:
“[B]est interests of the child” means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(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.
(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.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(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. 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.
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.
Joint custody is an arrangement in which one or both of the following is specified:
(a) That the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents.
(b) That the parents shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.
Sole custody is used to describe an arrangement where one parent is awarded primary physical custody as well as legal custody.
Joint physical custody is used to describe an arrangement where the parties share roughly equal parenting time.
Legal custody designates responsibility over major decisions regarding a child’s upbringing, including medical treatment, enrollment in school, religious instruction, and participation in extracurricular activities.
The statute creates the presumption that it is in the best interests of the child for that child to have a strong relationship with both parents. The court is directed to order parenting time that promotes a strong relationship between the child and the noncustodial parent. MCL 722.27a(1); Booth v Booth, 194 Mich App 284, 486 NW2d 116 (1992).
In some cases, parenting time may be ordered as reasonable, liberal, or both. In other cases, specific parenting time, including detailed start times and end times among other conditions, may be ordered. It should be noted that the parenting time awarded can also implement gradual increases and this can be helpful depending on the age of the child and other circumstances that may be involved.
Instances When Parenting Time May Not Be Granted
While the statute creates a right for the child to parenting time with a parent, parenting time must not be granted if it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that doing so would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. MCL 722.27a(3)
Parenting Time Factors
MCL 722.27a, the parenting time statute, lists factors that the court may consider when setting the terms of parenting time . The parenting time factors as are follows:
(a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
(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.
(c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
(d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
(e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time.
(f) Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
(g) Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
(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.
(i) Any other relevant factors.