Chryssikos Law Firm

Child Custody

Child custody cases are among the most highly contested, emotionally charged and most litigated issues in family law. These cases may occur in the context of a divorce case, post-divorce or in cases where the parties were never married. The Michigan Legislature has enacted the Child Custody Act, which establishes certain criteria that a court must consider when deciding custody matter. These dozen or so factors are frequently referred to as the Best Interest Factors and should be well known to any individual going through custody litigation. The Best Interest Factors are:

  1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
  6. The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  8. The home, school, and community record of the child.
  9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
  10. The willingness and ability of each party to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
  11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  12. Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

Your lawyer should sit with you early in the process, explain what the Best Interest Factors are, and work with you to begin establishing a strong case for each of the factors, including any witnesses, documents or other relevant evidence that should be testimony. A child’s reasonable preference is a consideration depending upon the age of the child. When seeking to change an existing custody order, the party seeking the modification must demonstrate that there has been a change in circumstances or proper cause since the entry of the last custody order. This must be established before the court is even authorized to examine the Best Interest Factors.