Giordano Law PLC

Serving Families At All Stages Of Life

What does “established custody environment” mean in family law?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2022 | Firm News

In Michigan divorce cases, children are frequently caught in the middle. Generally, this is unintentional behavior from the parents as most will want what is best for their kids. However, emotions run high in family law amid disagreements as to how custody will be determined. In a best-case scenario, the parents can negotiate and come to an amicable agreement regarding these complex challenges. Still, the court frequently needs to make the decision.

Assessing the environment and how to best serve the child’s needs

There are several options for custody, but when the court looks at the case, it will consider the established custodial environment. In many families, the child develops a closer bond with one parent over the other. That could be due to the parent having been a stay-at-home mother or father or for other reasons.

The child might naturally be inclined to look toward that parent to provide food, shelter, discipline and parental guidance. It does not necessarily mean there is no connection to the other parent. Other factors are the child’s age and the type of environment they live in.

After establishing that there is a custodial environment, the judge can order that the other parent be given custody only if there is evidence that the circumstances have changed and the child’s best interests would be met with a different custodial arrangement.

If there has not been an established custodial environment, the judge does not need clear and convincing evidence to make a change. A child residing with a parent does not automatically mean that there is a bond where the child looks to that parent for guidance and other aspects of parenting. In some cases, both parents have an established custodial environment. Each case is different, so this could be granted weight depending on the situation.

With custody and other areas of family law, professional help can be essential

With child custody, the primary factor is the child’s best interests. This means that the court will do whatever it must to ensure that the child’s home is safe, nurturing and positive with all they need to thrive. It will analyze the parents, the child’s development if there is an established custodial environment and more. For parents who are planning to divorce and are concerned about child custody and parenting time, having legal advice is imperative to try and reach a positive result.