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Do mothers have the upper hand in child custody disputes in Michigan?

Many people assume fathers always face an uphill battle in child custody disputes. Do mothers really always have the advantage?

In Michigan, the Child Custody Act is gender-neutral. In fact, it favors shared parenting plans in which the child will continue to have relationships with both the mother and father.

Nonetheless, many mothers do still win primary custody. Why is this?

Family law courts award physical and legal custody based upon the best interests of the child. They review many factors to determine the best interests of a child, but the parent who has taken more responsibility for the child's upbringing is likely to have an advantage. While times are changing, traditionally women have taken on more child-rearing duties.

What are the best interest factors?

The factors that family law courts consider in child custody cases are:

  • The emotional relationship between the parents and the child
  • The ability of the parents to provide love, affection, guidance and, in some cases, religion to the child
  • The ability to provide basic necessities 
  • Length of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • The stability or permanence of the proposed home
  • Moral fitness
  • Mental and physical health 
  • The child's home, school and community records
  • The child's preference, depending on age and maturity
  • A parent's willingness to encourage an ongoing relationship between the child and the other parent
  • Domestic violence
  • Other factors the court may consider relevant

What can you do to obtain custody?

  1. Do your best to take your emotions out of the situation. It is very important to remain level-headed and logical, and to think about what is truly in the best interests of your children. If you let your emotions get the best of you, you might do things you regret -- like badmouth the other parent in front of your child or draw out the custody battle unnecessarily.
  2. Be the best parent you can be. If you want to show the judge that it is in your child's best interests to be in your care, make this the reality. Make sure your child has a room, or a special place to his- or herself, in your home. Become involved in your child's activities. Support your child.
  3. Talk to an experienced attorney. A skilled lawyer can help you work out a suitable child custody arrangement.

At Gormley and Johnson Law Offices, PLC, in Fowlerville, we strive to reach fair, reasonable child custody arrangements through negotiated agreements. This saves time, money and the added emotional expense of drawn-out custody disputes.

To discuss your case with a member of our team, contact us for a free consultation.

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