Parenting Time Overview
A parenting time order determines when a child spends time with each parent. Parenting time orders should not be a one size fits all since families are not all the same. It is always best if parents can work out when parenting time will occur since parents know when they work, what activities a child is involved in, and other details that impact parenting time.
The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 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.”
The Custody Act states that the Judge may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted:
a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
b) 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.
c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time.
f) Whether the visiting parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
g) Whether the visiting parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
h) The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or 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 is intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
i) Any other relevant factors.
Parenting Time Enforcement
The FOC must begin enforcement proceedings when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts including dates, times and reasons were given, about an alleged denial of parenting time, and when the FOC determines that there is reason to believe the court’s order has been violated. A parent has the right to ask the FOC to help them in preparing a written complaint about an alleged parenting time violation or preparing a written response to allegations of parenting time violations. If the FOC has reason to believe that the parenting time order may have been violated, the office may do one or more of the following, at its discretion:
a) Give the complainant a form packet to assist the person in seeking to have the Court hold the other party in contempt of court and allow parenting time.
b) Refer the parents to a mediator.
If neither of the above options is successful, the FOC will assist each parent in the petitioning process for an Order to Show Cause, or petitioning to change the existing parenting time order. This process can be accomplished either through the use of forms allowing a parent to act as their own attorney or by hiring a private attorney to represent them in a dispute. Form: Motion and Order to Show Cause for Contempt (Custody/Parenting Time) (found in downloadable forms on this website).
In DeRose v. Derose, 469 Mich 320, 333–334 (2003), the Michigan Supreme Court held that MCL 722.27b (grandparent visitation) was unconstitutional because the statute failed to require that the trial court give deference to a fit parent’s decision regarding grandparent visitation. This statute incorporated the DeRose Court’s holding by requiring a trial court to give deference to a fit parent’s determination. It is now presumed that a fit parent’s decision to deny grandparent visitation does not create a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health. A grandparent must overcome that presumption and prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the parent’s decision to deny grandparent visitation creates a “substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical, or emotional health.” More information on Grandparent Visitation and Rights can be found at Grandparent’s Right.