When Can a Child Decide Who They Want to Live With? Can My Child Testify?
During divorce proceedings, parents’ first concern is often their children. Minors are impacted by divorce in many significant ways, having to adapt to a new residence or splitting time between both parents’ homes and sometimes getting caught in the crossfire of familial arguments. Fortunately, their rights are highly valued in the state of Michigan.
Whether child custody is “sole” or “joint” will be dependent on numerous factors that your attorney and the court system will have to work through, but in all cases, Michigan family law acknowledges the importance of children’s right to time with both parents, along with regular payment of child support.
Abuse, Endangerment, and Difficult Decisions
The only exception occurs, predictably, in cases of abuse or endangerment. A non-custodial parent who displays a consistent pattern of behavior that could endanger the child on a physical, emotional, or psychological level are not likely to receive visitation rights.
You can absolutely fight for the right to secure sole custody if you feel that your ex-spouse is a danger to your child, and we advocate for you to do so. What’s more, your child can advocate for themselves, too. Since a landmark case in 1991 enabled children over the age of six to express parental preference, minors have been able to have a greater say in their own living situation.
The Fine Print
While a child’s preference is certainly one of many factors that the courts will take into consideration, it is a commonly held misconception that older children can make the decision entirely on their own. Parents of teenagers might be concerned about the possibility of “losing” their child to their ex-spouse and rarely being able to see them. There is no situation in which this would ever occur for a child under the age of 18.
The best interests of the child are examined carefully by the courts, but this evaluation is done by reviewing a variety of factors, including emotional ties existing between the child and the parent and the capacity of the parent to provide adequate care. The older the child is, the likelier their preference will be taken into consideration.
If you have concerns about the mental or physical welfare of your child and fear that your ex-spouse could be a harmful influence, immediately contact an attorney. Grand Rapids family law experts can assist you with all the complexities surrounding child custody. We would be happy to provide you with a free consultation.