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What are the "best interests of a child"?

It is a difficult task to determine where a child should live and who may care for that child when the child's parents go through a divorce. In Michigan, courts may evaluate a number of different factors to decide how to serve a child's "best interests" when questions of custody are at hand.

Every child has different needs and, therefore, their interests will depend on their unique situation. However, all children need shelter, food and basic care. Courts can look at which parent will provide the child with these and other basic needs when evaluating how custody should be determined.

Additionally, a court may take into consideration the abilities of the parents to provide their child with care. This can mean determining if a parent has a mental or physical health concern that could prevent that parent from caring for the child. It can also mean looking at the parents' jobs to evaluate if they will have sufficient time and flexibility to give their child the support and attention that they need.

Serious considerations, like claims of abuse, parental drug or alcohol use or criminal activity, may weigh on a court's custody decisions. In suitable situations, the preferences of a child may be considered during the child custody hearing. These are only some of the considerations that courts may take into account when deciding how to divide up custody. Different child custody cases will have different outcomes. Getting the right information about legal options can be crucial when it comes to child custody issues.

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