Family Law

How Parents With Disabilities Can Protect Their Child Custody Rights

Parents with disabilities may worry about what will happen to their children during a Michigan custody dispute. Will a parent without disabilities get custody? Will a parent with a disability be treated fairly by the courts?

The courts will decide child custody issues based on the best interests of the child, not the best interests of either parent. However, parents with disabilities should be treated fairly.

What the Court Will Consider in Your Child Custody Case

Your child’s other parent may argue that your disability prevents you from effectively, safely, or successfully parenting. They may bring up all the things that you can’t do. Depending on your disability, this could include driving your child places, attending school or sporting events, cooking, helping your children with their homework, and other things.

However, parenting is not a one size fits all activity. Good parents are able—and unable—to do different things, and they all remain good parents. The court will only consider your disability as it relates to what’s in the best interest of your child. Specifically, the court will consider:

  • The love, affection, and emotional connection between both parents and the child. A disability does not keep you from building a strong emotional bond with your child.
  • Each parent’s capacity to love the child and provide affection, guidance, and education (including religious education). The court may consider your ability to discipline the child, the quality time you spend with your child, and how you involve your child in their church, temple, mosque, or another house of worship (if any.)
  • Each parent’s capacity to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, and other material needs. For example, the court may consider whether you take your children to the doctor, but that does not mean that you have to drive your child to the doctor. It doesn’t matter if you use Uber or rely on a trustworthy relative or friend, as long as you are present with your child and provide for safe transportation, provide comfort to your child, and make reasonable medical decisions.
  • How long your child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and whether it is desirable to maintain continuity. Your child deserves a safe and stable home. If the child has been with you in a safe and stable environment, the court may consider any stress a move would place on the child.
  • The permanence of each parent’s family unit or home. The court may consider how long you’ve been in your home, how long you are likely to stay in your home, and whether you have any other adults living in the home.
  • Each parent’s moral fitness. Your disability is irrelevant to your moral fitness.
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health. Here, the court may consider your disability, but only as it impacts your ability to care for your child.
  • How your child is doing at home, in school, and in the community. The court may consider whether your child is performing well in school, active in the community, and developing close friendships.
  • The child’s reasonable preference. The child’s preference is only relevant if the court finds the child is of sufficient age and maturity to express an opinion.
  • Each parent’s willingness and ability to encourage a close parent-child relationship with the other parent. The court may consider how the parents talk about each other in front of the child and how well they work together for the child’s benefit.
  • Any history of domestic violence. This may be relevant whether or not the child witnessed the violence.
  • Anything else the court considers relevant in your case. Other factors may include but are not limited to each parent’s work schedule and whether your child has special education needs.

Your Family Is Unique and So Is Your Custody Case

Our experienced Bloomfield Hills family law attorneys will make sure the court understands the truth about your parenting so that your child’s best interests are fairly considered. Please complete our contact form or text us any time to learn more.

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