If you are going through a child custody battle, it is likely the hardest thing you have ever experienced. For the children caught in the crossfire, it is even more difficult. They are already dealing with the fact that their parents will no longer be together, and the thought of a child custody fight can make it even harder.
In some cases, a child may be torn at the thought of choosing one parent over the other. On the other hand, sometimes children have a clear preference of who they would like to live with after a divorce. So, can children decide where to live in Michigan custody proceedings?
The Court will Consider the Best Interests of the Child
When making decisions on child custody matters, the court will consider what is in the best interests of the child. In Michigan, there are 12 factors in total and they include the bond shared between the child and each parent, the capacity of each parent to provide for the basic needs of the child, and the stability of the home environment. One of the 12 factors is also the child’s preference, but only when the court deems they are of a sufficient age to express that preference.
What is Sufficient Age?
Children aged 17 years or older are considered to be of sufficient age to express a preference in Michigan. However, for those children under the age of 17, the concept becomes much trickier. A family law judge will typically interview any child between the age of nine and 17 to determine if they have a preference about child custody and their living arrangement. After speaking to each child, the judge has the discretion to determine how much weight they will give the child’s preference.
Even when a judge does heavily weigh a child’s preference, they must still consider whether it is in the child’s best interests, or if they are choosing one parent for the wrong reasons. For example, a child may prefer to live with a parent that is more lenient, even though it is not in their best interests.
The Courts will Decide When Parents Cannot
It is usually in the best interests of everyone for the parents to reach an agreement about child custody matters. If they cannot, the decision will be left to a judge who will consider, among many other factors, the preference of the child. However, family law judges do not always come up with the creative solutions that are best for a certain case, and that the parents can agree to together.
Our Family Lawyers in Michigan Can Help with Your Child Custody Case
Child custody cases are incredibly difficult, and there are many factors that go into these decisions. At Iafrate & Salassa, P.C., our Michigan family lawyers will advise on the factors a court will consider, and negotiate with the other side to help you reach an agreement that is best for all parties involved. Call us now or fill out our online form to schedule a free case review and to obtain the sound legal advice you need.