10892151 sChild custody and parenting time can be two of the most difficult issues for couples who are divorcing, or who have never been married.


It is important that couples understand that these decisions are determined based off the best interests of the child. The Judge will take into consideration the "best interest factors" when deciding custody.

These "best interest factors" are as follows:

  1. The love, affection and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  5. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  6. The moral fitness of the parties involved.
  7. The mental and physical health of the parties involved.
  8. The home, school, and community record of the child.
  9. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express a preference
  10. 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.
  11. Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

The goal of any parenting plan is to ensure that the relationship between the parents and the child continues, and that each encourage the relationship with the other parent. If both parties cooperate with one another, a creative solution with flexible alternatives can be reached that will be in the best interest of both the parties and the child. These decisions are based on specifics of each case.

Laurie Schmitt of Schmitt Law, PLLC is a West Michigan family law attorney specializing in collaborative divorce as well as separation, divorce, child custody and support, paternity, and other family law litigation. She is licensed by Michigan State Bar and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan, and has extensive advanced training in divorce mediation and collaborative divorce. Contact Laurie at (616) 608-4634 for a confidential consultation.