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How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody in Michigan

January 11, 2022 John Engman & Associates

How Domestic Violence Affects Child Custody in Michigan

Domestic violence is something that affects many West Michigan households. It is something that many offenders have a pattern with, and those offenders are trying to dominate another person. This problem is that it will also often lead to child abuse and neglect. Courts will take into consideration any domestic violence that has occurred in the home while the children were inside that home during a custody decision.  

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, there are many organizations that can help and offer assistance to help get you out of your current situation. Please go here: Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence website for a complete list.

Determining Custody in Michigan

The courts are required to make a custody decision based on the information they have about the two parties. This includes any domestic violence issues that have been in the past. They are to look at the situation and determine what is in the child’s best interest. There are some interest factors that the judge will take into consideration, such as:

  • Domestic violence could be not witnessed by the child but it still happened within the home.
  • Encouraging both parents to have a good relationship with the child.
  • The preference of the child, if the child is old enough to express a preference
  • The home, school, and community record of the child,
  • Consider the physical and mental health of each parent.
  • The moral fitness of each parent,
  • The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home,
  • A stable environment and the desirability of maintaining that environment is required and the length of time that the child has had that in their life.
  • The capacity of each parent to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs,
  • The capacity of each parent to continue the child’s education and raise the child in his or her religion, if any,
  • The love, affection, and emotional tie between each parent and the child,
  • Any other factors that the court considers relevant to the particular custody dispute.

The exact verbiage and what is considered can be found in MCLA 722.23. None of these factors are more important than another. A judge’s personal beliefs and personality are other things to consider. The past helps a divorce attorney in Grand Rapids determine what you might expect as far as the outcome.  Michigan child custody laws are followed to determine what is best for the child.  You can read more about FAQ for divorces in Michigan to find more answers to common questions.  Or call the office at 616-454-5222.

The Complexities of Domestic Violence 

Domestic violence is very complex and can happen between spouses, two people that live together, parent and child, siblings, and more. Domestic violence is more than just hitting. It can also include:

  • Intimidation
  • Stalking
  • Threats of violence and harm
  • Control of freedom or money
  • Isolation
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Assault 
  • Physical Abuse

While domestic abuse is a factor in child custody cases, it is also a criminal offense in the state of Michigan. You must report this sort of abuse, and if they are found guilty, they could be facing jail time. Typically the courts will provide you with a PPO or personal protection order to help keep you safe. To see the full text regarding PPOs, you can look up MCLA 600.2950.

PPOs are used to limit the abuser to the person they were abusing. This can order the abuser to bother the victim in any way.

You can also file for a PPO in the family courts as well as the circuit court.

Michigan and the Effects Domestic Violence has on Custody

Even if your children didn’t see the violence and were not victims, it will have an effect on the outcome of custody. All factors will be considered, domestic violence is just one of them. Because of this, the person that has been accused and even found guilty could, in fact, get some custody of the children.

The Michigan courts believe that it is always in the children’s best interest to have a relationship with both parents as much as possible. If the court believes that if the children were allowed parenting time with the domestic abuse parent may lead to harm of that child, they will most likely do supervised visits to ensure the safety of the child/ren.

Supervised usually means that the parent will meet at a location where there are supervisors to assist. This can be a court-ordered supervisor such as a caseworker or a third party such as a grandparent. In these situations, it is advised, in most cases, that the parent goes to therapy or counseling to learn how to be a better parent and person overall. The goal is to get the visits unsupervised in a more natural setting.

At John Engman & Associates, P.C., our Michigan divorce attorneys will do everything in their power to help you through this difficult time  From prenuptial agreements to child custody and more we are happy to help.To request a consultation with one of our Grand Rapids, MI drug lawyers, give our office a call at (616) 454-5222.