Going through the divorce process involves many difficult decisions. One of the most difficult tasks, however, is determining child custody. Splitting up a family is never an easy process, and it is often filled with strong emotions. However, it is critical to make all decisions based on the best interests of the child.
In addition to deciding who the child will live with, the court will look at the visitation and whether joint or sole custody is best. The judge presiding over the case will take into account all circumstances of the situation before making the final decision.
Legal vs. physical custody
Parents who have legal custody have the right to make critical decisions regarding a child’s religious upbringing, education and medical care. Those who have physical custody are responsible for the physical caretaking of the child.
The court may rule sole or joint legal or physical custody of the child. This means that both parents may share the legal decision-making and physical caretaking of the child, or the responsibility may fall on one parent.
Factors courts consider
According to the Michigan Child Custody Act, the court may consider the following factors before determining child custody:
- Educational and recreational opportunities at each household
- The mental and physical health of each party
- Who was the primary caretaker during the marriage
- The child care arrangements at each household
- Whether any spousal abuse, drugs or alcohol were involved
- Occupation and financial stability of each party
In some cases, the court may ask for the child’s input when it comes to what parent they would rather live with. The court will not allow custody or visitation to a parent who has been convicted of certain crimes involving murder or sexual offenses.
Ensuring the child is in the right situation is critical to their development. Having access to both their mother and father is important to have a well-rounded upbringing.