Does a mother have a better chance at winning a custody battle, or does a father? Do the children’s ages matter? Or the children’s gender?

Pursuant to Michigan Compiled Laws (MCL) 722.23, a court will consider the sum total of the following factors to determine a custodial arrangement in the child’s best interests:

  1. The love, affection, and other emotional ties between the parents and the child(ren).
  2. The capacity and disposition of each parent to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and rearing of the child in his or religion or creed.
  3. The capacity and disposition of the parents to provide the child with food, clothing, 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 (established custodial environment).
  5. The permanence 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 preference of the child if the child is of sufficient age to express same, and same is reasonable.
  10. The willingness and ability of each of the parents to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent.
  11. Domestic violence, regardless of if the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.
  12. Any other factor the court considers relevant.

Of particular note is that the statute does not specify any age or gender factors, whether related to the parents or the children.  If the parents cannot come to an agreement about custody and parenting time, the statute requires that the court determine custody based on the child’s best interests, and there is no statutory preference for a mother or a father simply based on the parent or child’s gender.  However that does not mean that in any given case a mother or father may be preferred, not because of their gender, but because of their role in the child’s upbringing and the sum total of the best interest factors.

This blog post was written by attorney Lori B. Schmeltzer, at Schmeltzer Law, and is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.  If you have questions or concerns specific to you, you are encouraged to seek qualified legal counsel.

Lori B. Schmeltzer

Schmeltzer Law PLLC

[email protected]