Family Law Attorney Handling Child Custody Cases in Oakland County, Michigan
Getting divorced and dealing with a child custody dispute is difficult on everyone, including the parents and the children. It is important for parents to recognize that the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970, which governs child custody matters in Oakland County, starts from the position of assuming that it is in the best interests of the child to have a relationship with both of his or her parents. In some cases in which there is no child custody dispute, the parents may be able to agree to a child custody arrangement that suits everyone. However, this is often not the case, and the court needs to step in and determine whether one or both of the parents should make important decisions about the child’s upbringing, as well as one or both parents should spend significant time with the child.
How Do Oakland County, Michigan Courts Determine Legal and Physical Child Custody?
In order to decide both legal custody (who makes important decisions about the child’s upbringing) and physical custody (who makes routine decisions about the child’s well-being and provides a caretaking role for this child), the court seeks to determine what is in the best interests of the child. It considers a long list of factors, ranging from the current emotional ties that exist between the child and each of the parents, the mental and physical health of all of the parties involved, the child’s preference, and the willingness of each parent to continue facilitating a relationship between the child and the other parent.
The court does not rely on any single factor, but instead looks at every case individually and weighs the factors to determine what kind of custody situation is in the child’s best interests.
Parenting Time in Oakland County
A successful parenting time plan also takes into account the best interests of the child. Michigan law emphasizes that “parenting time should be of a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent.”
When Does the Child Get to Decide?
According to the State Court Administrative Office and Michigan Supreme Court, the child’s preference does not always play a significant role—if any role—in the court’s custody decision. To be sure, “the mere expression of a child’s preference is only one consideration.” When does a child get to decide where she lives? The court will take into account the following in deciding whether the child’s preference should play a key role:
- Child’s maturity;
- Child’s age (typically older children understand the circumstances and can better appreciate how voicing their preference will affect their lives and the custody order); and
- Consistency of the child’s preference over time.
To be clear, any child under the age of 18 cannot legally choose to live with one parent over the other, but the child can express a preference that the court may consider.
Discuss Your Case with a Oakland County Child Custody Lawyer
If you are going through a divorce and have children from the marriage, you should discuss your case with a Oakland County child custody attorney as soon as possible. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski to speak with an advocate about your case.