12 Factors Used to Determine Child Custody
When the court determines an appropriate child custody order, it considers a set of 12 factors that indicate which physical and legal custody arrangement best serves the child’s needs. These factors are known as the 12 best interest factors.
Every child’s needs are unique, and every family’s situation is unique. With this in mind, the court has the discretion to weigh each of these factors as heavily as it deems necessary for each specific case.
The 12 Factors
The 12 best interest factors are:
- The love, affection, and emotional ties between the child and each of the parents;
- The parent’s individual capacities and disposition to provide the child with love, affection, and guidance in the child’s continuing religious education, if applicable;
- The parents’ individual capacities and disposition to provide the child with food, clothing, shelter, and medical care and when applicable, remedial care in lieu of medical care as recognized by state law;
- The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of keeping him or her in that environment;
- The permanence of the family unit in the existing or proposed family home for the child;
- The parents’ individual levels of moral fitness;
- The parents’ individual mental and physical health statuses;
- The child’s home, school, and community records;
- The child’s reasonable preference, if the court deems the child to be old enough to express a reasonable preference;
- Each parent’s willingness to facilitate and encourage a close relationship between the child and the other parent;
- The presence of domestic violence in either household and whether the child witnessed it; and
- Any other factor the court deems relevant.
Weighing the 12 Factors to Determine an Appropriate Custody Order
When considering each of the 12 factors listed above, the court can interpret them as granularly as it deems necessary. For example, when considering the child’s current home environment and whether it is a stable, safe environment for him or her, the court may consider whether any registered sex offenders live in the neighborhood, crime rates in the town where the home is located, and how long the child has lived there, rather than just looking at whether the house, in itself, is a secure environment.
The final factor in the list grants the court the right to consider any other issues it deems relevant to a child custody case. If you feel your case is a unique situation that warrants special court consideration, discuss it with your lawyer. Your lawyer can give custom advice tailored to your situation and help you develop realistic expectations for the custody determination process.
Work with an Experienced Grand Rapids Family Lawyer
To learn more about how Michigan’s 12 best interest factors will impact your child custody case, schedule a legal consultation with one of the experienced family lawyers at The Van Den Heuvel Law Office. We are here to answer your questions and enable you to navigate every aspect of your divorce with as much ease as possible.