Child Custody

This issue is the most emotional and traumatic part of most divorce cases. In actions involving disputes over custody of a minor, the court is governed by the Child Custody Act of 1970. The law currently requires that "best interests of the child" are to control.

The Child Custody Act of 1970 requires the court to assess the ability of individual parents to care for their children, and, although old assumptions die hard in any area of the law, the act has largely replaced the law and the assumptions that preceded it.

The act standardizes the criteria for the best interests of the child and creates a wide-ranging framework for decisions regarding child custody. The best interests standard applies to custody disputes between parents, between agencies, and between third persons

Existing Custody Orders Can Be Modified

The court will consider the time the child has lived in a stable custodial environment and what is in the best interests of the child. A court must first determine if there is an "established custodial environment." That determines the burden of proof: clear and convincing evidence that there is a compelling reason to change custody if there is an established custodial environment or the preponderance of the evidence if there is no established custodial environment.

It should be remembered that the child's preference, although an important factor, is just one factor to be considered of the 12 factors in the Child Custody Act; and it is not in the child's best interests to try and convince a child to have a preference by promises or threats or to discuss the divorce case with the child.

Don't hesitate to call McCleary & Associates, P.C., to schedule a complimentary consultation. I can be reached at 810-553-6910, or complete my online contact form to schedule a meeting.