When parents cannot agree on a parenting time schedule for a custody arrangement, the court will have to determine the better parent based on the following best interest factors. As the case starts to escalate, the Friend of the Court will typically conduct an investigation to determine how the factors apply to each parent. The end result is that each parent usually starts to point out the worst traits in the other parent. Next, the Friend of the Court will provide a recommendation on custody and parenting time. If either parent disagrees with the recommendation then objections are filed for the Judge to conduct hearings. The Judge will analyze these same best interest factors based on evidence and testimony.
MCL 722.23 “Best interests of the child” defined.
Sec. 3. As used in this act, “best interests of the child” means the sum total of the following factors to be considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:
(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.
(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.
(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.
(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.
(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.
(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.
(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.
(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.
(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.
(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.