Everybody knows just how messy divorce can get. Unfortunately, sometimes children are roped into the parents’ disagreements. This is why Michigan provides for certain factors which have to be considered in determining child custody. Custody is always in the interest of the child and not in the parents’ interest. The judge considers what is best for the child regardless of what the parents might want.
There are a number of factors that are used to determine child custody. These include:
- Established custodial environment
- Ability of the parents to take care of their children
- History of domestic and drug abuse
- All the children should stay together and not be separated
Sometimes, the court might take the child’s request into consideration. In such cases, the child privately makes the request to the judge with neither of the parents present. Other than this, the court might also award child custody to neither of the parents if they are considered unfit to raise the children. Drug and alcohol abuse as well as domestic abuse are the most common factors contributing to such as decision which is often the last resort.
Child Custody Agreement
If you and your spouse have agreed on custody, this should still be presented in writing to the court to make it official. It is best to have a Michigan divorce attorney or one who is specialized in family law for this. The custodial agreement will enable enforcement and prevent contentious issues from arising later.
If the court makes the decision, a custodial agreement is still issued. It includes:
- The custodial parent or parents
- The non-custodial parent
- Provisions for visitation rights
- Holiday and vacation arrangements
The custodial agreement must be as clear as possible, removing any loopholes or alternate interpretations to make enforcement easier.
For the non-custodial parents, visitation rights provide for the time that the parent can spend with their child. These visitation rights can either be supervised or unsupervised. One important thing to note is that the custodial parent is not allowed to change visitation hours or deny the non-custodial parent the right to see the children at stipulated times. Some people opt to deny visitation rights as a reaction to delayed payment or non-payment of child support. These are two independent issues and your Michigan divorce attorney will make it clear that such an act can be deemed as being in contempt.
Enforcement and Violation of the Custodial Agreement
Violation of the custodial agreement can be grounds for going back to court. In this case, the violating party might be found in contempt and could face jail term depending on the severity of the violation. If you suspect that your children are in danger, then this should be reported to the authorities so that it can go on record. In the event of any such incident, such reports will act as proof and you can then ask the court to reconsider some aspects of the custody agreement.