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How is custody determined?

Usually parents agree as to which one of them will have custody of the minor child. Custody is contested when more than one party wants to be the custodial parent. In disputes between the parties, third parties and agencies, the court determines custody based on the "best interest" of the child.

Factors the court must consider in determining custody

In disputes between a party and an agency or third party, the law favors granting custody to a parent. The court considers the following factors as outlined in the Michigan Child Custody Act:
  • The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  • 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 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.
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  • The home, school and community record of the child.
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  • The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

Friend of the Court Handbook