Who Gets Child Custody After the Parents Split Up?

In all child custody cases, ‘best interests’ is the term you’re going to hear the most. In Michigan, that is especially so. The Michigan courts list 12 factors which they call the ‘best interest factors’ that will be used to determine child custody arrangements. That said, the Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 states that it believes that it is in the best interests of a child to have a good relationship with both parents.

What Are the ‘Best Interests of the Child’ Factors?

The judge overseeing your custody case will use 12 factors to decide on child custody, parenting time, and guardianship. On paper, no factor is more important than the rest. But it is important to have more factors favor your case so that it helps the judge’s determination. It comes down to the judge’s decisions on how important each factor is to your particular case.

The 12 factors are as follows:

  1. The emotional ties that the child shares with either parent. Who has the child bonded most with?
  2. The capacity of either individual parent to provide the child with love, affection, and guidance through life. How does either parent discipline their child? Who helps most with homework and social activities? 
  3. The capacity and disposition of each parent to provide the children with adequate food, clothing, medical care, housing, and other material needs. Who has the most earning capacity? Who has the flexibility to take time off work for their children? 
  4. The length of time that a child has lived in a stable environment and their desire to remain in that environment. Who can provide the most stability in their living situation?
  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed housing situations. Will the child live with siblings?
  6. The ‘moral fitness’ of either parent. Was there an affair? Was there drug or alcohol abuse?
  7. The mental and physical health of all parties.
  8. The school, home, and community record of the child. Who goes to parent-teacher conferences? 
  9. If the court determines the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference, the judge will hear that child’s preference for custody arrangements.
  10. The expressed willingness (and ability) of either party to provide and encourage a relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. Will you cooperate with the agreed-upon parenting time schedules?
  11. A history of domestic violence, whether it was directed at the child or otherwise.
  12. Any other factor that the court believes is relevant to child custody disputes.

Are Mothers Favored When it Comes to Child Custody Arrangements?

Legally speaking, the laws are gender-neutral. Michigan’s Child Custody Act states that it is in the best interests of the child to have a good relationship with both parents. Despite that, there is a common belief that mothers often receive preferential treatment from the courts in child custody battles – and for good reason. Statistically, mothers are the parents rewarded with primary (and sometimes sole) custody of their children. Fathers still have a chance of receiving primary custody, sole custody, or 50/50 custody, but it’s going to be a struggle for them to convince a judge to side with them.

But why?

Traditionally, mothers take on more child-rearing responsibilities than fathers, so they check more of the boxes in the 12 best interest factors. Times are changing, though, and fathers are becoming more involved with their children than ever before. If you hope to receive more parenting time, you need to prove that you’re a great parent. In order to achieve this, you’ll need to ensure that the child is provided for at your residence with a room of their own, access to social activities, and all of their necessary needs are taken care of.

It’s also important to remain level-headed and agreeable with your ex. The more logical and decent you are in the courtroom, the more the judge is likely to smile upon your efforts and reward you favorably. If you believe you’ll have difficulty remaining civil with your ex-partner, you absolutely must retain professional legal counsel to speak on your behalf.

Who Gets Custody After a Split if the Parents Weren’t Married?

In Michigan, child custody laws for unmarried couples differ slightly from those for married spouses. Unless a father obtains a custody order or has another legally binding agreement with their ex in place, primary custody is granted to the mother by default. This may preclude the father from any visitation rights unless the mother expressly consents.

The father may have the right to file a paternity action, potentially granting them visitation rights. To learn more about gaining custody rights by proving paternity, please speak attorneys experienced in Michigan custody law at our law firm.

Contact Us Today for a Free Consultation

If you’re a father in a child custody dispute – or if you’ve recently filed for divorce and are worried about the custody battles yet to come – it’s crucial that you understand how the proceedings work and how they might favor the mother. Even though you’re supposed to be treated equally on paper, sometimes it doesn’t play out that way. As your legal representation, we will present a convincing case for why you deserve to have custody of your child.

Father’s rights are important to our firm. We understand how important they are to you, too. Don’t settle for less when you deserve more. Schedule a free case evaluation with our law firm to discuss your child custody case today. Contact our Southfield-based law offices today at (248) 290-6675.