Under Michigan law, family courts decide child custody cases based on the best interest of the child. There is, however, no formula to determine the best interest of the child. Many legal and social pundits have proposed various models in making the decision to determine the definition.
After extensive research, one of the models prepared by the National Family Resiliency Center was the developmental model for determining the best interest of the child. Under this model, the judge may look into the developmental aspects of the child's growth in order to determine his or her well-being. The child's intellectual growth, sense of self and self-confidence may be factored in as well. Furthermore, the affect that that the parent's divorce or separation may have had on the child's emotional growth may also be a factor.
The family court judge may consult expert testimony to determine the developmental progress and well-being of the child. There are attorneys who specialize in helping to determine the best interests of the child, along with neutral evaluators, psychologists and psychiatrists who can also aid in this determination. All of these people may help the family court judge in determining the developmental progress and best interest of the child in a child custody case.
By adopting the developmental model, the judge may also be able to better evaluate the situation. Adapting the model may further aid the family court judge to ask the right questions, thereby furthering the best interests of the child. The family court judge may even ask the biological parents, guardians as well as their respective attorneys to take training under the developmental model with experts in order to help the child.
Source: AmericanBar.org, "A judge's guide: Making child centre decision in custody cases," accessed on April 3, 2015