In instances of divorce, child custody is one of the main issues that must be decided. When it comes to child custody, Michigan family law courts look to ensure that the child is placed in a situation where the child will thrive emotionally and physically. To do this, the courts use the best interest of the child standard to determine where and with whom the child or children will live. It is a major decision in the lives of children who face this type of situation because it affects who they are and inevitably how they will grow into adulthood. Hence, the courts take child custody matters very seriously.
Often times custody decisions go beyond the parents, meaning that there are circumstances where the courts will not place a child in the custody of the biological parents. There are also cases where the parents are either not fit or physically available to care for their child or children. In these cases, the courts look for other family members who are willing to raise the child. This is not easy to do and sometimes there are no other members of the family readily accessible. A key factor in utilizing family members in lieu of the parents in child custody cases is ensuring that those chosen as the custodial parents have a strong relationship with the children.
Grandparents sometimes fill the role of custodial parents, especially when the biological parents cannot do so. In Detroit, grandparents who have taken on the responsibility of raising children who they have been granted custody are now being recognized for doing so. A program called Dress for Success assists these non-traditional families by giving them food, clothes and toys from corporate donors. This type of program along with others ensures that the children who have been subject to custody decisions are provided for and not forgotten, and helps to remind the public that grandparents' rights in regard to their grandchildren also need to be protected.
Courts may have to rule on child custody in divorce, separation and in cases when parents are for some other reason unavailable. In each of these circumstances, the courts will use the same best interest of the child standard, even when that means that the child should be placed outside the immediate family.
Source: Detroit Free Press, "Grandparents raising grandkids recognized", Robin Erb, December 16, 2012