Child Custody

Act of 1970 (Excerpt)

722.23 "Best interests of the child" defined. Sec. 3.As used in this act, "best 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.(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.

History: 1970, Act 91, Eff. Apr. 1, 1971 ;-- Am. 1980, Act 434, Imd. Eff. Jan. 14, 1981 ;-- Am. 1993, Act 259, Imd. Eff. Nov. 29, 1993© 2007 Legislative Council, State of Michigan.

This issue is the most emotional and traumatic for you in most divorce cases. There is sole custody, joint custody, shared custody, legal custody versus primary physical custody, and many other forms. The basis for determining child custody is "what is in the best interests of the child." Due to the extensive nature of custody disputes and the laws involved, this subject is best left to an in-depth discussion with your attorney. . A parent involved in a child custody matter should become acquainted with the Child Custody Act of 1970, and study and be prepared to give their reasons for wanting custody pursuant to the above factor. Your decisions regarding your children should be left to their parents. They are best suited to protect their children's best interest.

When there are custody disputes, the parents must be advised as to joint custody:

  1. At the request of either parent, the court shall consider an award of joint custody, and shall state other cases joint custody may be considered by the court. The court shall determine whether joint custody is in the best interest of the child by considering the following facts:
    • The factors enumerated in the above.
    • Whether the parents will be able to cooperate and generally agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.
  2. If the parents agree on joint custody, the court shall award joint custody unless the court determines on the record, based upon clear and convincing evidence that the parties are unable to cooperate and agree concerning important decisions affecting the welfare of the child. If the court awards joint custody, the court may include in its award a statement regarding when the child shall reside with each parent, or may provide that physical custody be shared by the parents in a manner to assure the child continuing contact with both parents.
  3. During the time the child resides with a parent, that parent shall decide all routine matters concerning the child.
  4. If there is a dispute regarding residence, the court shall state the basis for a residency award on the record or in writing.
  5. Joint custody shall not eliminate the responsibility for child support. Each parent shall be responsible for child support based on the needs of the child and the actual resources of each parent. If a parent would otherwise be unable to maintain adequate housing for the child and the other parent has sufficient resources, the court may order modified support payments for a portion of housing expenses, even during a period when the child is not residing in the home of the parent receiving support. An order of joint custody, in and of itself, shall not constitute grounds for modifying a support order.
  6. As used in this section, "joint custody" means an order of the court in which one or both of the following is specified:
    • That the child shall reside alternately for specific periods with each of the parents.
    • That the parties shall share decision-making authority as to the important decisions affecting the welfare of the child.
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