Most parents would list children as more important that anything else in life. In many ways, the amount of time you spend with them will define the relationship. For that reason, the decisions that parents sometimes face regarding children and their placement can generate stress, and cause parents to overlook some of the tremendously important issues that may arise. Our Oakland County parenting time attorneys thoroughly consider all issues of any case involving children. We offer parents invaluable advice and legal assistance in resolving such issues, so that parents can get back to focusing their attention on what they love most: their children. Contact us online or call (248) 479-6200
Parenting time, which was once referred to as visitation, is one of the issues that may arise in cases involving children. In Michigan, parenting time is often granted to the parent who does not have physical custody of the children or to parents sharing joint custody. The Child Custody Act of Michigan provides the guidelines used by courts to grant parenting time. One of Act’s paramount purposes is to promote a relationship between children and their parents. Consequently, the law presumes that it is in the best interest of children for them to interact and have a relationship with both of their parents.
Parenting Time and the Child Custody Act
The Act provides a number of factors for courts to consider in granting parenting time. Some of these factors are (1) special needs or circumstances of the children, (2) how burdensome or inconvenient traveling to and from parenting time may be on the children and (3) whether a parent has failed to exercise reasonable parenting time on a frequent basis. While the factors mentioned in this brief explanation are not exhaustive, they give you an idea of how the court makes a determination regarding parenting time.
How Parenting Time Issues are Decided in Court
In our many years of experience practicing Family Law in Oakland County, we have observed that parenting time often arises out of a mutual agreement between the parents. When parents cannot agree on these issues, a court can grant parenting time. In Oakland County and many other counties in Michigan, the Friend of the Court can be instrumental in helping parents resolve their parenting time issues. The Friend of the Court conducts investigations and considers various issues involved in these types of cases. While the Friend of the Court referee may not offer legal advice or legal representation, he or she may make recommendations regarding parenting time.
In cases where parents do not have a prior parenting time order and they cannot reach a mutual agreement, a request for parenting time can be made with the Oakland County Family Court at any time. The court will usually grant parenting time “in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote” relationships between children and their parents, unless extraordinary circumstances exist. This means that the court will refuse to grant parenting time only when it finds a significant likelihood that parenting time would not be in the best interest of the child.
After deciding that parenting time should be granted, a court can determine if parenting time will be general or specific. General gives the parents the ability to mutually agree on a parenting time schedule. In specific, the court prescribes a specific schedule for parenting time. The court can also require specific conditions for parenting time. This could include division of the responsibility to transport the children, division of the cost of transporting the children, and restrictions on who can be around the children during parenting time.
If there is a prior parenting time order, the court may change it if the parent seeking such a change can show proper cause or a change in circumstances. The court has not specified the exact standard for what counts as proper cause or an adequate change in circumstances. It has required that the proper cause or change in circumstances relate to the best interests of the child. While the standard for changing a parenting time order requires an evaluation of the child’s best interests, it is more lenient than the standard for changing a child custody order because of a need for flexibility in parenting time.
Obtaining parenting time—whether through a private mutual agreement, the assistance of the Friend of the Court, or a formal court proceeding—can be taxing and confusing. There are many additional considerations in cases involving children that cannot be adequately explained in this brief overview. To ensure that you, as a parent, have considered all of the issues that can arise in your case, you should seek the help of an attorney who is skilled, experienced, and willing to exhaust all of the legal options available to you.
Call Our Oakland County Parenting Time Attorneys
If you believe that you should pursue parenting time or seek to change an existing parenting time order, you should hire an Oakland County parenting time attorney to protect what is precious to you. Our Oakland County Parenting Time attorneys has ample experience in assisting clients with parenting time issues. We understand that parents regard their children as especially dear. For that reason, we make it our goal to further one of the objectives of the Michigan Child Custody Act: to promote a strong relationship between children and their parents.
We are available for phone consultations and meetings during and after 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.