A child tends to be the most important person in a parent’s life. Then there are the times that we just wish they’d give us a brief respite. Relationships vary, and could depend on how much time the children and parents are able to spend together. Because of the close relationship parents and children tend to have, parents facing the possibility of separation from their children can find themselves in a very stressful situation and might accidently overlook some extremely critical issues. Luckily, our Oakland County parenting time attorneys have dealt with hundreds of these types of issues and can get you through this difficult time. We want you to be able to focus on what matters most: your children. Contact us online or call (248)-479-6200.
Parenting time, formerly known as visitation, is one of many issues that could arise in cases involving children. Michigan normally grants parenting time to the parent that does not have physical custody of the children, or to parents who have joint custody of their children. Courts use the guidelines from the Child Custody Act of Michigan to decide how to grant parenting time. The Act strives to allow relationships to form between children and parents as the law presumes that it is in the best interest of the child to spend quality time with both parents.
Parenting Time and the Child Custody Act
Courts use the Act to decide how to grant parenting time. Some of the factors the courts consider are: (1) special needs or circumstances of the children, (2) how difficult or burdensome it might be for the children to travel back and forth between the parents, and (3) whether a parent has failed to exercise reasonable parenting time on a frequent basis. There are other factors that the courts take into consideration as well, but the ones listed here are some of the main factors.
Parenting time must be granted to a parent in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. If the parents of a child agree on parenting time terms, the court will order the parenting time terms . . . [unless it is shown] that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child. A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. [MCL 722.27a(1)–(3).]
The statute lists factors the judge may consider to determine the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time. [MCL 722.27a(6)(a)-(i).] The State Court Administrative Office’s Parenting Time Guidelines are available on the Michigan Supreme Court’s website at: http://courts.mi.gov/Administration/SCAO/Resources/ Documents/Publications/Manuals/focb/pt_gdlns.pdf.
How Parenting Time Issues Are Decided in Court
In our decades of experience with the family courts in Oakland County, we often see parenting time agreements result from a mutual agreement between the parents. When parents cannot come to an agreement, the court will decide on parenting time. Throughout Michigan, the Friend of the Court is often able to help the court come to a decision on parenting time. To help the court, The Friend of the Court will do its own investigation and present to the court its visitation recommendations and reasoning.
If a parenting time agreement has never been made, parents can still request to have one made at any time through the Oakland County Family Court. In unusual circumstances, the court might decide that parenting time is not in the best interest of the child and might decide to completely deny a parenting time request. However, there is a strong presumption in favor of both parents spending time with the children.
If the court grants parenting time, it will decide whether this time will be general or specific. General means that the parents will be able to decide on their own parenting schedule. Specific means that the court gives the exact details on how the children’s time will be split between the parents, such as which days and what times. The court might also place specific restrictions on parenting time. Examples could include dividing transportation responsibilities between the parents or restricting who will be around during a certain parent’s allotted time.
It is also possible to change parenting time, but the parent requesting the change must show some proper cause or a significant change in circumstances. The court does not define what qualifies as a proper cause or adequate change in circumstances; the only requirement is that the change in parenting time be in the best interest of the child. The child’s best interests must always be kept in mind, but changing parenting time is easier than changing a child custody order.
No matter what your circumstances or reasons for changing a parenting order, this process is confusing and often quite exhausting. This short overview covers only a fraction of the considerations that need to be kept in mind when it comes to parenting time. Because of how complex and important this issue is, it is vital you find a qualified attorney that will be able to exhaust all legal options available to you.
Call Our Oakland County Parenting Time Attorneys
If you are considering a parenting time order or are looking to change your current parenting time order, you should contact an experienced Oakland County family law attorney right away to protect you and your family. Our Oakland County parenting time attorneys have decades of experience keeping parents and children together. Your children are precious. It is our goal to further the Michigan Child Custody Act and promote a strong and healthy relationship between children and their parents.
Contact us today to set up a phone consultation or meeting during and after our business hours. Our office is conveniently located at 30300 Northwestern Highway. That’s the Gem Building near 13 Mile and Northwestern. Office meetings are by appointment.