You don’t hear the term “moral fitness” outside of an impeachment hearing or a courtroom these days, because the issue of morality is so subjective these days. What’s acceptable behavior to one person might be completely reprehensible to another, based on their religion, culture, or personal beliefs. But did you know, your moral fitness might actually play a role in how parts of your divorce play out in Oakland County, Michigan? Specifically, your custody order, which might not pan out the way you want it to if the Judge thinks you’re a parent with questionable morality and poor judgment.
So what specifically could happen if the Judge decides you’re not a safe or acceptable parent? Well, you could have your bid for sole custody or for joint custody bumped in favor of something far less involved, like supervised parenting time. Or, in a worst-case scenario, you might lose access to your kids all together although that’s pretty rare here in Metro Detroit courts. It’s hard to know in advance because each Judge is different, and each of the courts in Oakland County, Livingston County, and Macomb County has a slightly different mindset.
Of course, each situation is unique. However, it’s important to realize that your behavior and life choices during both before and during your divorce could have a direct impact on how much time you get to spend with your kids in the future. However, Michigan law makes it very clear that the morality issue must be viewed in terms of how it might affect the minor child(ren).
Things that the court might see as a lack of moral fitness:
- Criminal History
Do either of the parents have a criminal record? If so, then the type of crime, how recently it occurred, and how extensive the record would all play a role in determining moral fitness. For example, to most judges, a conviction twenty years ago would be less of an issue than a conviction two years ago, and a felony assault conviction would be more of a concern than a misdemeanor ticket for using weed.
- Alcoholism and/or Drug Abuse
A parent who uses drugs or drinks alcohol in a way that the court may consider excessive, might be at risk of being considered morally unfit. It’s highly unlikely that a glass of wine with dinner will count against you, whereas a heroin addiction is very likely to look bad. Again, the judge will consider each case individually. The judge may or may not put substance abuse into the moral fitness issue or might instead consider it to be a physical or mental health issue.
- A History of Domestic Violence
A history of domestic violence or spousal abuse is a huge red flag for every court. A parent who has a history of abusing their partner, especially in front of the children living in the. Our law (MCL 722,23) says that domestic violence is an issue whether or not it is witnessed by the kids. So if you want to keep your kids after the divorce, make sure you control yourself during arguments at all times!
You need a good attorney as much as you need good parenting choices!
Before, during and after your divorce, you should be making choices that consider your children’s best interests. But you also need to consider your own future interests. And one of the best ways to do that is to hire the best family lawyer you can find to represent you throughout your divorce. Obviously, that’s where we come in. Here at The Kronzek Firm we’ve been helping the people of Troy, Rochester Hills, Royal Oak, Bloomfield Hills, and Ferndale with the divorces. Whether the issue is custody, division of assets, alimony or child support, we’ve got you covered. Call (248) 479-6200 to talk to us today.