When you have children and file for divorce, the Judge decides custody matters if you and your spouse cannot agree. Often, the parties think that the Friend of the Court has the power to decide custody, but this is not true. The Friend of the Court recommends the custody arangement that they feel is in the best interest of the child, but the Judge does not have to go along with their recommendation.
In custody disputes, the law rules that the Judge take the best interest of the child as the controling factor. The Child Custody act is used to determine what is in their best interest. If both parents agree on a custody arangement, a stipulation or consent order is signed by the court to establish the agreed upon custody. A consent order or stipulation is usually signed without a problem if the Judge believes that the best interest of the child is served by the custody arrangement that the parents have agreed upon. However, if the parents cannot agree a hearing is held.
It is the Judge’s job to read the Friend of the Court recommendations, listen to testimony regarding the ability of both parties to provide and parent the child (these may be teachers, counselors, doctors, relatives), and any other evidence that reveals reasons why one of the parties is better able to provide the necessary nurturing and care that is required under the Child Custody Act. Depending on the age of the child and the circumstances, a Judge may ask to speak privately to the child to get an idea of their wishes.
Once a decision is made concerning custody of a child it is ordered by the Court. If either parent does not agree they may ask that the Judge review it, although if nothing has changed it is not likely to be revised. A parent may make a formal appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals in an attempt to change a court ordered custody.
If you are going through a divorce and have children. It is a good idea to go online and familiarize yourself with the Child Custody Act so that you are aware of what is taken into considereation when determining what is in the best interest of your child. You can find it at www.courts.michigan.gov
Nothing herein constitutes a legal opinion