supervised, rehabilitative, non-overnight, out-of-state etc.
The issues of parenting time and custody are the two most misunderstood areas of Michigan family law.
Below is my attempt to shed some light on some of the basic themes and address some common misconceptions.
Parenting time is the actual time a parent spends with the child pursuant to the Order of the court. Parenting time can be Ordered in all different forms. The law states that parenting time shall “…occur in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child(ren) and the parent” MCL 722.27a. However, if a parent can demonstrate that parenting time would endanger a child then the court can limit or out-right deny parenting time altogether. The latter is reserved for the most extreme cases since Michigan has long recognized that it is in the best interest of the child to have a relationship with both parents.
In determining parenting time the court has wide latitude and may require parties to share in transportation, order a party drug tested before parenting time begins, can limit where a parent can travel etc.
The frequency, duration and type of parenting time can change as the needs of the child change. For instance, if a parent is afforded every Wednesday night and the child is enrolled in a extracurricular activity on Wednesday making the parents time a matter of simply transporting the child and sleeping over a court will likely change the week night from Wednesday. With that being said it courts clearly favor stability in fashioning parenting time schedule and a party seeking to change the schedule should be able to demonstrate why it would be in the child’s best interest.
Child Custody determines which parent has the authority to make decisions regarding the child. A parent with sole legal custody has the authority to make the major life choices of the minor child, for instances medical, legal and educational decisions. Parties with joint custody are required to confer with each other and if they cannot agree the party desiring the change must file a motion and the court will decide based upon the best interest of the child.
In order to determine custody the court must look at the established custodial environment of the child which has been defined as “if over an appreciable time the child naturally looks to the custodian in that environment for guidance, discipline, the necessities of life, and parental comfort.” Therefore, parenting time can have an effect on custody in that if a party desires to change parenting time to the extent it will change the established custodial environment than that party must demonstrate a “substantial change in circumstances” in order to change custody of a minor child. Once a party has demonstrated a change in circumstances than the court will look to the best interest of the child factors in determining whether the motion will be granted.
Both changes to custody and parenting time are nuanced and my office can provide an in-depth case specific analysis of your child custody/parenting time situation , please feel free to call email or text, anytime day or night.
Genesee County Friend of the Court Parenting Time Complaint Form
Genesee County Friend of the Court Standard Reasonable Parenting Time Schedule
Michigan Parenting Time Statue
Genesee County Register of Actions
(Check your case)
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