Michigan passed the Child Custody Act, which revamped the family law in the state. The act specifically allows children to influence which parent receives primary custody over them. In general, your children can express a preference for where they live but it is not automatic or binding on the court. As always, the court retains ultimate authority over what is in the best interests of the child. This article will go over how your child's choice may affect the custodial arrangement and what this may mean for your divorce.
The act requires that the court give reasonable preference to the child's choice, assuming the child is capable of expressing a preference. Generally, the older the child, the more weight their preference is given. It is presumed that older children are better able to withstand parental pressure than younger children. It is also assumed that old children will grasp the implications of the situation more clearly. Regardless, a child cannot fully control their placement until they are 18 or legally emancipated, so their preference is never more than a suggestion.
The court will also consider the nature of the preference. For example, if your child consistently wants to live with you, then the court will weigh that more heavily than if the child switches preferences every few months. Basically, the court does not want the child to express a preference simply because they spent a vacation with one parent.
You can modify child custody agreements post-divorce. In fact, regular reviews can be very common. If you are considering a child custody modification, then you may want to sit down a family law attorney. An attorney can also go over the legal impact that your child's preference may have on the modification request. A lawyer can go over the legal strategy and requirements to get a modification.