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What standard is used in child custody cases?

Throughout much of human history, the custody of children of all ages went to their father by default. That started to change shortly before the Civil War, and by World War I, the custody of children went to their mother by default. In recent decades, there has been a major call for fathers and mothers to be treated equally in the parenting realm, reflecting the call for men and women to be treated equally in the career realm. Currently, the standard used in child custody cases in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, is called the "best interests of the child" standard.

What does the name of the standard mean?

It means that all decisions about child custody and visitation should be made based on the best interests of the children involved, and the real circumstances of the families in each case, and not on cultural stereotypes about gender roles. The best interests of the children typically necessitate a situation in which they can maintain a close relationship with both of their parents. That way, the children do not feel abandoned, and can continue to get the benefits of healthy relationships with both parents on a consistent basis.

What factors affect the application of the standard?

Many factors may affect the degree to which the court applies the standard. Those factors can include the wishes of the children, special needs of the children, custody arrangement of other related children, ages of the children and the gender of the children. Of course, the fitness of the parents will also figure in, and any past conduct that renders a parent unfit will preclude them from getting custody.

Hopefully, parents who are fit to take care of their children can set aside their issues and, with the help of their attorneys, come to a custody agreement that truly is in the best interests of their children. By doing so, they show that they really do care about the best interests of their children, and that their love for their kids is more important than their arguments with each other.

Source: FindLaw, "Focusing on the "Best Interests" of the Child," accessed Sep. 08, 2017

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