Generally, the court would prioritize the best interest of the child in Michigan, mental health issues, or none. As we have discussed previously, the best interest of the child is defined in law.
Hence, before diving further into Michigan child custody law and mental health, let us discuss some of the cases already decided by the Michigan Supreme Court.
We have previously discussed this fact but we deem it proper to reiterate these cases.
722.23 of the Michigan Child Custody Act defines the “best interests of the child”. According to the law, it means the total of the twelve listed factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court.
- “The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.” The first important factor that determines the best interest of a child in case of a divorce in Michigan is the emotional connection between the love and affection between the parents and the children. Above any of the considerations that the courts would take into account, it is the best interest of the child emotionally that matters. This is where the court would often consider who the child is closer to and who has been taking care of the child since the beginning.
- “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.” The next important factor is the capacity and the disposition of the parties to give their children what they would need while growing up. This would include love and guidance as well as whether there can be continuity in the education of the child and the religious disposition of the parties
- “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.” After looking at the emotional ties as well as the capacity of the parties to bond with the child it is very important to also look at the financial capacity of either of the spouses to provide what the child would need. The best interest of the child, according to Michigan law, would also consider the financial aspect of their parents.
- “The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.” As much as possible the courts would want the children to continue living their lives in the environment that they are used to. Especially when it comes to minor children, the importance of putting down roots and having a stable environment is a primary consideration for custody to be granted to either of the spouses.
- “The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.” It is important for the children to feel that they are still a member of a family despite the separation of their parents. The permanence of the home that they would continue to live in is an important factor in determining the custody of the children.
- “The moral fitness of the parties involved.” It is also important to look at the moral fitness of the spouses not to judge them but to determine which one of them would be able to provide proper guidance for their children. The no-fault divorce in Michigan only applies to the parties but the judge and the court will have to determine whether a party who has caused the breakdown of the marriage is even remotely morally fit to guide a child while he is growing up.
- “The mental and physical health of the parties involved.” If you are not in great physical health and your mental health is in tatters you should expect that the court would not be leaning towards giving you the physical custody of your children. The parties need to prove that they are physically and mentally able to raise children and stability is important on this end.
- “The home, school, and community record of the child.” It is also important to look at the current environment that the child is used to and this is the primary reason why the home, the school, and the community record of the child form part of the factors that affect his best interests.
- “The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference.” The court will also consider the preference of the child if he is already of the right age to make an express declaration.
- “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.” As already discussed in other articles, parenting time with other parents who may not get physical and legal custody of the child is important in the state of Michigan. Hence the willingness of each of the spouses to continue and encourage the relationship between the other spouse and the child is also part of the consideration.
- “Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.” Any record of domestic violence that is directed towards the child or that has been experienced and witnessed by the child first-hand will be against the parent who committed the domestic violence.
- “Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.” Any other factor that the court considers relevant and affects the well-being of a child is also taken into account.
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