An “Established Custodial Environment” (ECE) is VERY important to understand if you are dealing with Child Custody.
Whether or not an ECE exists will determine your burden of proof in order to be successful in your request for custody. In other words, will you need a LOT of evidence or just ENOUGH to prove your case?
With regards to an Established Custodial Environment, Michigan courts will look at facts regarding:
- The amount of time a parenting “routine” has been in place
- What kind of care and guidance is the child receiving
- Who is providing the parental care, and when
- Where is the care being provided
- What is the home environment like
- What is the physical quality of the parenting relationship
- What is the psychological quality of the parenting relationship
- Is the environment stable
- Does the child feel secure
- Does the child feel that they can rely on day to day permanence
- Who do the children look to for guidance, discipline, necessities of life and parental comfort
When many changes in a child’s routine causes uncertainty, a previously established custodial environment is destroyed. The most important aspect of an established custodial environment inquiry is whether the children’s relationships were marked by qualities of security, stability and permanence.
When one parent is uncooperative in making sure the other parent is allowed parenting time with the children, trying to control how a parent communicates with or sees the children (without a really good reason, i.e., safety of the children) the court may look on this as an unstable environment.
An ECE can be found with both parents as long as there is a sense of stability and security. Just because there may be a custody order in place does not mean that there is an ECE. The court must still determine if there has been stability in the parental relationship over a sufficient period of time.
At times, a parent may give up custody of a child for a period of time during a difficult time so they can focus on fixing whatever problem they are experiencing so that in the future the child can have a better life. Parents are encouraged to transfer the care of children in a better position to care for them during times of difficulty. However, these cases are all very fact specific.
Lakeshore Law and Mediation is experienced family law firm that knows which questions to ask, the pertinent law and is skilled in presenting facts and arguments of law that will represent you well in a court of law.
Call us at 616.844.4091 or email us below for expert help!
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