Family law matters can be complex and difficult for Michigan residents. This is true whether the sides are on relatively friendly terms or are in constant battle over every issue in the case. Some aspects are more emotionally wrenching than others and could spark rampant disagreement that can escalate. One frequently contentious part of a divorce is child custody. To be fully protected with child custody disputes, it is wise to have comprehensive legal representation from the start.
The types of child custody and a child possibly expressing a preference
While there are custody arrangements that can be ordered such as sole custody and the two types of joint custody – joint legal custody and joint physical custody – the child might get caught in the middle of the parents’ dispute. If the child has a preference, it is important to understand how that will be considered in the case. The court may decide that the child can have a say in where he or she will live, but there are caveats.
Based on the Child Custody Act, the child can express a reasonable preference if it is determined that he or she is of sufficient age and maturity to do so. If the child decides that one residence is preferred over another, it is only one part of the process. The age and maturity is key. It can be complicated to analyze the reasonableness of a child’s request. The judge can assess the child’s age and if there is consistency in the desire to live with a certain parent.
The maturity levels of children can differ. One might be younger, but can make a coherent statement as to why one parent is preferred over the other. Another could be older and not be deemed mature enough to make that decision. The child will not have final say until turning 18 or being emancipated. Children might say they want to live with one parent and later say they want to live with the other. The judge will look for consistency and the request not having been made after spending an extended time with one parent. The child must understand the ramifications of the request.
Legal representation can be key with child custody cases
Even if the child expresses preference, the parents will also want a prominent say in the child custody determination. Knowing the factors the court will weigh, what alternatives are available and how to address and mitigate various challenges is vital for a satisfactory resolution. With divorce, family law, child custody and any other part of a case, a firm that can see a case through from start to end can be helpful.