Lansing, Michigan and surrounding areas are subject to a number of specific, state laws regarding child custody. This process can become especially contentious during and after a divorce when two parents will argue that they should maintain primary custody of the children. If the children are a little older and moving towards adulthood, the judge may simply allow them to assert a preference and follow their judgment. However, this is no guarantee and when younger children are involved the situation becomes much more complex. The Michigan Courts have supplied a document that defines key terms regarding custody, the role of the judge, and what kinds of rationale will ultimately guide their decisions. It can be useful to gain a basic understanding of this process before a divorce or a custody hearing. Any information relevant to your fitness as a parent can also be discussed with your lawyer to help them prepare.
Custody and the Judge’s Discretion
Family law is an area of the law that tends to give judges wide discretion. This is allegedly done to give an equitable result to both of the parties in areas such as property division and child custody. However, this can become a problem because there are no guarantees regarding how a judge will rule and only a lawyer who has had many cases before the same judge can start to get an idea of their style. This is why it will help to speak with a seasoned lawyer who has significant experience in the court system in Lansing. The state of Michigan has tried to limit a judge’s discretion slightly by giving specific factors that are used as guidelines in custody battles. Their main job is to determine the best interests of the child. These guiding factors include:
- The emotional ties between the child and each relevant party seeking custody
- The ability of each parent to provide guidance and education to the child
- The amount of financial support each parent can give for things like food and medical care
- The amount of time the child has been in a stable environment, with an emphasis on minimizing disruption and maintaining consistency
- The moral and mental histories of the parents regarding their fitness to raise a child
- The child’s performance in school and other related activities
- The child’s own preference if they are above a certain age
Obviously, many of these factors would point to a child spending most of their time with a financially and mentally stable parent who will help them succeed in school and related areas. A history of financial trouble, drug abuse, or criminal cases may cause a judge to frown upon a parent and give primary custody to the parent with a clean history. However, judges are also human and the results based on each situation may not always be obvious. Judges are also given some discretion to deviate from guidelines in family courts if they have good grounds to do so, and some of their rulings can seem irrational. These intangible factors are a great reason to attend a custody hearing only after sufficient preparation with your lawyer.
Contact a Family Law and Divorce Attorney in Lansing
For help with child custody, divorces, or any other issues related to family law in Lansing and surrounding areas, please contact The Law Offices of Stuart R. Shafer. Mr. Shafer is licensed to practice law in the state of Michigan and he has successfully represented families in the area for almost 40 years. Based on the custody rules given on this page, Mr. Shafer would be ideal to represent someone in a custody hearing.