Parenting Time

Parenting Time Attorneys Located in Canton, Michigan

I. Overview

The non-custodial parent is generally granted parenting time. The Judgment may state that general parenting times are granted and leave it up to the parties to decide the dates, or specific parenting time hours and dates may be written into the Judgment.  If long distance must be traveled to exercise this parenting time, some arrangements can be made concerning the cost of same. Enforcement of parenting time rights is by an Order to Show Cause. Judgments of Divorce provide that the minor child may not be permanently removed from the jurisdiction of the Court without the Court’s approval. To move the child from the state, the custodial parent must petition the Court for an Order granting same. Parenting time/Parenting Orders are modifiable upon a showing of a change in circumstances warranting same. There is also a provision in the law for the makeup of parenting times that have been wrongfully denied, and contempt of court action against the offending parent that can lead to a fine or jail term.

II.    The Law

The Michigan Child Custody Act (MCL 722.27a, MSA 25.312(7a)) states: “It is in the best interest of the child to have frequent and constant contact with the non-custodial parent. If the parents agree on parenting time terms, the court shall order those parenting time terms, unless the court determines on the record that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child.

A child shall have a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that the parenting time would jeopardize the child’s physical, mental or emotional health.” During the person’s parenting time, that parent is responsible for all routine decisions affecting the child.

III.  Duration of Parenting Time

The Michigan Child Custody Act states that the judge may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration and type of parenting time to be granted:

1.    The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.

2.    Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.

3.    The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.

4.    The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.

5.    The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time.

6.    Whether the visiting parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.

7.    Whether the visiting parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.

8.    The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent of from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.

IV.    Post Judgment Modification

Post-judgment modification of parenting time is subject to the same restrictions as post-judgment modification of custody. The parent wishing to modify parenting time must prove a substantial change in circumstances or good cause in order to get a hearing on the issues.

V.    Questions and Answers Regarding Parenting Time

1.  My parenting time order states I have “reasonable visitation rights or reasonable parenting time.” What does this mean?  

This means the parents have the responsibility for setting up a mutually agreed upon schedule for parenting time, which is reasonable under the circumstances. If you cannot mutually agree to a visitation schedule, you can file a Motion for Specific Parenting Time.

2.  I have a specific parenting time schedule that I need to change. What can I do? 

      If you need a temporary change in your parenting time schedule, contact the other parent to discuss making other arrangements. If you need to make a permanent change, then determine if you and the other parent can agree to a change (stipulation and consent agreement) or file a Motion with the court for a change in the order.

3.  If the payer of child support is not making regular child support payments, do I have to allow him/her to have parenting time?   

Yes, parenting time and support are separate orders of the court, with separate enforcement procedures (see support enforcement section).

4.  The other party is not following the parenting time order. What can I do?

File a Motion to hold the other party in contempt of Court for failing to follow a Court Order.

5.  The other parent is not sending or returning clothing or other personal items for our child. Is there anything the Friend of the Court can do?

The Friend of the Court follows the written Order of the Court. Unless your court order states each parents’ responsibility for clothing, the Friend of the Court does not have any enforcement power.

6.  Do I have to let my children go for parenting time if it appears that the other parent has been drinking or using drugs?

    That is your decision. If you make the decision to deny parenting time in these circumstances, you may be asked to explain to the court at a contempt hearing why you felt your decision was in the best interest of the children.

7.  I am concerned about the other parent discussing changes in the court orders with the children. What can the Court do?

Unless your court order forbids such discussions, the Court has no enforcement power.  However, you can file a motion and ask the Court to enter an order that prevents either party from discussing same.

8.  Does the Friend of the Court have a responsibility to investigate alleged abuse and/or neglect of a child?

A Friend of the Court does not have any responsibility to investigate child abuse or neglect. Allegations of abuse or neglect should be reported to the Protective Services unit of your local Department of Social Services office.

9.  I have a parenting time order, and my teenage child does not want to come for parenting time. What can I do?

The parents of the child are bound by the court orders. However, you may consider determining if you can work out a different parenting time arrangement with the child and the other parent or you can file a Motion with the court requesting a change in your parenting time order.