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What Matters In Child Custody: What The Courts Really Consider

What Matters in Child Custody: What the Courts Really Consider

Navigating the complexities of child custody can be one of the most challenging aspects of a family law case. With emotions running high, parents often find themselves overwhelmed by the legal intricacies and the uncertainty of what the courts will ultimately decide. Understanding what truly matters in child custody cases can ease some of this stress and provide clarity. This guide will delve into the key factors courts consider when determining child custody, offering invaluable insights for anyone seeking to hire a Shelby, MI family lawyer.

Understanding Child Custody

Before diving into what courts consider, it’s essential to understand the different types of child custody: physical and legal.

Physical Custody

Physical custody pertains to where the child will live and who will be responsible for their day-to-day care. This type of custody can be awarded solely to one parent (sole physical custody) or shared between both parents (joint physical custody).

Legal Custody

Legal custody involves the right to make significant decisions about the child’s upbringing, including education, healthcare, and religious instruction. Like physical custody, legal custody can be either sole or joint.

Knowing the distinction between physical and legal custody is crucial, as it forms the foundation upon which courts base their decisions.

Factors Considered by Courts

When courts are tasked with determining child custody, they consider a variety of factors, all aimed at serving the best interests of the child. Here are the primary factors that typically influence their decisions:

The overarching principle guiding custody decisions is always the child’s best interests. But what does this mean in practice? Courts look at several elements to determine what arrangement will most benefit the child’s well-being.

  1. Parental Stability – Courts assess each parent’s ability to provide a stable and consistent environment. This includes evaluating each parent’s mental and physical health, job stability, and living conditions.
  2. Emotional Bonds – The emotional relationship between the child and each parent is another critical factor. Courts often look for strong, loving bonds as indicators of a positive home environment.
  3. Parental Cooperation – The willingness and ability of each parent to cooperate with the other parent and facilitate a relationship between the child and the other parent are also taken into account. A parent who actively undermines the child’s relationship with the other parent may be viewed unfavorably.
  4. Child’s Preference – In some cases, if the child is of sufficient age and maturity, the court may consider the child’s own wishes regarding custody arrangements.
  5. History of Abuse or Neglect – Any history of abuse or neglect by a parent can heavily impact custody decisions. Courts prioritize the safety and welfare of the child, making this a paramount consideration.
  6. Continuity and Routine – Maintaining a sense of normalcy for the child is important. Courts prefer to minimize disruptions to the child’s routine, including schooling, extracurricular activities, and social relationships.


Understanding the intricacies of child custody and what courts consider can significantly impact the outcome of your case. From assessing parental stability to considering the child’s preferences, many factors come into play. If you find yourself facing a child custody battle, consulting with experienced family lawyers can make a world of difference.

At Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC, our team of skilled family lawyers in Shelby, MI, is dedicated to helping you navigate these challenging times. Contact us today at 586-496-7525 to schedule a consultation and learn how we can assist you in securing the best possible outcome for you and your child.

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