Domestic violence can be devastating for families, and particularly for children. From situations in which children are subjected to violence themselves or bear witness to domestic violence in the home, to scenarios in which one parent has been accused of domestic violence, domestic violence can affect child custody in Michigan. Although Michigan courts want to ensure that both parents play a role in their child’s life and upbringing when it is appropriate, and that children are able to rely on and to benefit from the support of both parents, domestic violence is one factor that can result in limitations or restrictions of child custody, both in terms of legal custody and physical custody, which includes parenting time.
Factors for Determining Child Custody Based on the Best Interests of the Child
Generally speaking, Michigan encourages parents to develop their own child custody arrangements that focus on the best interests of their child. However, in family situations involving domestic violence or allegations of violence, it may not be possible for an agreement. In such cases, the court will look at a variety of factors to determine a custody arrangement that is in the best interests of the child. The Michigan Supreme Court cites a variety of factors that courts use from the Michigan Child Custody Act. In addition to factors such as the mental and physical health of the parties, the moral fitness of the parents, the child’s stability in a particular school and community, and numerous other relevant factors, the court can specifically consider “domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed at or witnessed by the child.”
To be clear, the court will consider instances and allegations of domestic violence when deciding on an appropriate child custody arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. Depending upon the particular facts of the case, domestic violence may result in a restriction or limitation on child custody and parenting time or can, in some cases, result in one parent having sole legal and physical custody of the child with restricted or no parenting time for the other parent.
Effects of Domestic Violence on Child Custody and Relocation Requests
Domestic violence can also be a leading factor in a judge’s decision to approve a parent’s relocation with a child to 100 miles or more away from the current residence. Indeed, according to the Michigan Supreme Court, when a parent makes a request for the court to approve such relocation, the judge must consider whether the child was a victim of violence or witnessed another family member be the victim of violence. The judge will also consider whether the abused parent requires the move to put distance between them and their abuser, and to ensure the safety of the child.
Contact Our Michigan Child Custody Lawyers
If you have questions about domestic violence and child custody, our Michigan child custody attorneys can speak with you today. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information.