Child custody issues are decided by the Michigan court system, and the goal of any court decision is to serve the best interest of the child. The family law judge has considerable discretion in deciding the matter relating to child custody based on the evidence and arguments presented by the legal representatives of both parties.
In most cases, the court is able to formulate a child custody arrangement that would be best suited for the situation of the parties and would serve the best interests of the child. Child custody is usually decided depending on which parent would be able to provide the best family environment for the child's emotional, financial, and overall well being.
In some cases however, the divorcing spouses may not choose to go directly to the courts. In such cases, an amicus curiae or friend of the court may be beneficial. Moreover, unless the court finds that joint child custody is not in the best interest of the child, joint custody, or at least joint legal custody, is preferred in the legal system. A friend of the court may be able to help parents understand this and work toward it as a custody arrangement.
A friend of the court may aid the biological parents in coming to an amicable solution regarding custodial issues. Issues relating to child custody may include parenting time or visitation rights. In cases where an amicable settlement is not reached, the court may ask the friend of the court to advise the biological parents to try the alternative dispute resolution systems in the Michigan legal system.
In other cases, the court may order the friend of the court to launch an investigation into the biological parents in order to determine an appropriate custodial arrangement. The friend of the court then makes a comprehensive report regarding the information he has gathered during the investigation. This report may substantially influence child custody.
Source: Legislature.MI.gov, "Friend of the court," Accessed on Feb. 24, 2015