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Child Custody

Does a Child’s Age Impact Custody Rulings in Michigan?

In amicable divorces, spouses may be able to reach an agreement regarding issues like the fair and equitable division of assets, child support, and alimony. However, even spouses who can reasonably agree on financial matters may struggle when it comes to child custody. The thought of being away from kids, even if it’s in their best interests to split time between two loving parents, can be heartbreaking.

If parents cannot agree on child custody, the decision will be left to the court. A judge may consider a range of factors, like the love and affection between parents and children, the ability of parents to provide for the physical and emotional needs of the children, the relative stability of each household, and more. In some cases, the children’s preferences may also be considered.

When does the age of a child come into play, and how can it impact child custody decisions in Michigan?

Caring for Young Children

One instance in which the age of children may be considered as part of the custody arrangement is if one parent stays at home to care for them. While there is no legal mandate that a stay-at-home parent should get custody of children, this person may receive preference as the primary caregiver.

Typically, the stay-at-home parent is more likely to become the custodial parent than a spouse who is the sole wage earner. This may have to do with the stay-at-home parent providing the most care or perhaps having a stronger bond with the children.

Even so, judges may not award sole or even joint custody to a stay-at-home parent if it is proven that the individual does not provide adequate care, is violent toward the children, or perpetuates violence witnessed by the children.

If the stay-at-home parent threatens to kidnap the children, fails to facilitate visits with the other parent, or interferes in the continuing relationship between the other parent and the kids, these behaviors could also impact custody.

Child Preference

In Michigan, children under the age of 18 have no legal say in which parent receives custody, but if a judge deems that children are old enough and mature enough to voice a preference, children may be asked to weigh in.

The worry with younger kids is that one or both parents may try to influence, coach, or coerce children into choosing them. If a judge determines that a child is old enough and mature enough to state a preference, the preference of the child will be kept confidential and will not be shared with the parents, lawyers, or anyone else.

Acting in the Best Interests of Children

As a parent, the thought of being away from children can be unbearable. However, you want to act in their best interests and do all you can to ease the transition for them after divorce. Knowing how age impacts child custody will help you understand the best way to proceed.

Are you facing divorce and child custody issues? Contact the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at Gucciardo Family Law today to learn how we can help.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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