What factors are considered in determining the best interests of the child?

Before there is a court order, who has custody? What factors does a court consider in making a custody decision? Do mothers have an advantage in custody proceedings?

NOTICE: None of these questions and answers constitute legal advice. To obtain legal advice, consult with an attorney. This is especially important in divorce and family law matters, in which outcomes are often peculiar to the particular facts and circumstances of the case.

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Question: What factors are considered in determining the best interests of the child? Answer: Remember, no list of factors can be complete, because of the unique character of each case. That said, here is a list culled from Michigan cases: (1) Fitness of parents. (2) Character and reputation of parties. (3) Desire of parents and agreements between parties. (4) Potentiality of maintaining natural family relations. (5) Preference of the child. (6) Material opportunities affecting the future life of the child. (7) Age, health and sex of the child. (8) Residences of the parents, and opportunities for visitation; or geographic proximity of parental homes. (9) Length of child’s separation from parent. (10) Prior voluntary abandonment or surrender.More factors, especially important when considering joint custody: (1) Capacity of parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting child’s welfare. (2) Willingness of parents to share custody. (3) Relationship between child and each parent. (4) Potential disruption of child’s social and school life. (5) Demands of parental employment. (6) Sincerity of parent’s request. (7) Financial status of parents. (8) Benefit to parents.

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