Parenting time, formerly called visitation, is the time a non-custodial parent spends with the child. It is considered to be in the child's best interest to have regular contact with the non-custodial parent unless there is clear and convincing evidence showing that parenting time would jeopardize the child's physical, mental, or emotional health.
REASONABLE PARENTING TIME
Reasonable parenting time means the parents work cooperatively in coordinating parenting time. This type of parenting time order is generally more flexible and allows parents more control in changing parenting time plans.
SPECIFIC PARENTING TIME
Specific parenting time is typically a court-ordered schedule defining when parenting time is to take place. Although this does not provide as much flexibility as reasonable parenting time, the additional structure is often helpful for parents.
PARENTING TIME FACTORS
The Michigan Child Custody Act provides the following factors for determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted by the Court:
(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 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's intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
(i) Any other relevant factors.
PARENTING TIME ENFORCEMENT
The Friend of the Court is required to provide enforcement services regarding parenting time orders. Enforcement begins when a written statement including dates, times, and reasons for any claimed denial of parenting time is received A party may request Friend of the Court assistance in preparing the statement. Most parenting time issues are addressed first through mediation. If mediation is not successful in resolving the issue, then the Friend of the Court may set a binding schedule, in some cases, or schedule a hearing to resolve the issue.
Parenting time and support are separate orders of the court, with separate enforcement procedures. Child support should still be paid if the custodial parent is not allowing parenting time and parenting time should be allowed if the non-custodial parent is not paying child support.
It is the custodial parent's decision whether or not to send the child for parenting time if it appears that the other parent has been drinking excessively or using drugs. If the decision is made to deny parenting time in these circumstances, the custodial parent may be asked to explain to the court why denying parenting time was in the best interest of the child.
PARENTING TIME MODIFICATION
A change or modification of the parenting time order may be initiated by the Friend of the Court or by either party. In many cases the Friend of the Court will hold an informal hearing or mediation session to address changes in parenting time. The Friend of the Court offers a Motion Regarding Parenting Time form ( see FORMS page) for use by a party who chooses to file a motion to establish or change parenting time. Instructions and assistance are available. A $100 filing fee is required.
If the parties agree to a parenting time order, the Friend of the Court will prepare a stipulation and order at no cost to the parties.
PARENTING TIME FOR TEENS
The teenage years are often stressful and may be further complicated for the child by parenting time demands. As a child grows and changes, it may be helpful to change the parenting time plan. You may want to see if you can work out a different parenting time arrangement with the child and the other parent or you may contact the Friend of the Court in writing for assistance.