Do Children Have a Say in Michigan Custody Arrangements?

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Do Children Have a Say in Michigan Custody Arrangements?

If you have decided to file for divorce, you probably feel scared and overwhelmed. You probably have a lot on your mind. If you have children, you may have questions about the future.

You may have concerns about child custody. Who decides where your child will live after a divorce? Will your child have a say in the custody arrangements?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no magic age at which a child can choose to live with a certain parent in Michigan. Read on to find out what this means for you.

Age Guidelines

Some states will take a child’s age and preferences into consideration when determining child custody. For example, a child might have a say in the situation when they are 14 or 16 years old. This is not the case in Michigan. A child must be an adult (18 years old) before they can make that decision. And since they will be an adult at that time, they can also choose to not live with either parent. They can legally live on their own.

In previous court cases, it was determined that children as young as 6 years old have the capacity to express a preference in child custody situations. However, it can also be determined that children of that age can be easily brainwashed by a parent. Parental alienation, which is when one parent pits the child against the other parent, happens quite often. This is why young children should not have the final say in custody arrangements. 

However, forcing a child to wait until they are 18 to make a decision on custody may seem a little too far-fetched. At age 16, a child can drop out of high school, get married with parental consent, or become emancipated from their parents. However, a child under the age of 18 is not allowed to pick the parent with whom they want to live.

Best Interests of the Children

Under MCL 722.23, the factors that determine the best interests of the child are outlined. They include:

  • The relationship the parent has with the child
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs
  • The ability of each parent to provide the child with a stable environment
  • The permanence of the child’s home
  • The mental and physical health of the parents
  • The moral fitness of the parents
  • Evidence of abuse, neglect, or domestic violence
  • The reasonable preference of the child

As you can see, one of the factors is the reasonable preference of the child. While it is taken into consideration, it is not given any more weight than any other factor. It is not the deciding factor, as there are many other factors to consider. 

Contact a Michigan Child Custody Lawyer

Divorce is tough for everyone involved. Child custody can be an emotional and contentious issue, especially if a child has a favorite parent. 

The Michigan child custody lawyers at Lucido & Manzella, P.C. can help you get the custody and visitation rights you desire. Schedule a consultation with our office today by calling or filling out the online form.

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