Determining the Best Interests of the Child - Michigan

Date: September 2023

Guiding Principles

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.23 

The term 'best interests of the child' includes the following factors that must considered, evaluated, and determined by the court:

  • The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child
  • 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 their religion or creed, if any
  • 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

Best Interests Factors

Citation: Comp. Laws § 722.23 

The following factors also shall be considered by the court:

  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes
  • The moral fitness of the parties involved
  • The mental and physical health of the parties involved
  • The home, school, and community record of the child
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference
  • The willingness 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 parents
  • Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child
  • Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute

A court may not consider negatively any reasonable action taken by a parent to protect a child or that parent from sexual assault or domestic violence by the child's other parent.

Other Considerations

Citation: Comp. Laws § 712B.5

In Indian child custody proceedings, the best interests of the Indian child shall be determined, in consultation with the Indian child's Tribe, in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act and the policy specified in this section. Courts shall do both of the following:

  • Protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian Tribes and families.
  • Ensure that the Department of Human Services uses practices, in accordance with the Indian Child Welfare Act, this chapter, and other applicable law, which are designed to prevent the voluntary or involuntary out-of-home care placement of Indian children and, when an out-of-home care placement, adoptive placement, or preadoptive placement is necessary, place an Indian child in a placement that reflects the unique values of the Indian child's Tribal culture and that is best able to assist the Indian child in establishing, developing, and maintaining a political, cultural, and social relationship with the Indian child's Tribe and Tribal community.