Michigan Parenting Time Attorney

Parenting time refers to the amount of time individual parents are allowed to spend with a child after a divorce. This amount of time is determined by the court and can often lead to controversy between parents. These disputes may include disagreements over the division of time, and how this amount of time is measured. Being able to present your case in the best light possible is vital to ensure you have the most time possible to spend with your children.

If you are in the process of a parenting time dispute or disagreement or need to file a motion to modify parenting time, it is strongly recommended that you reach out to an experienced family law attorney specializing in parenting time disputes. This will help to ensure that you receive the best outcome and enjoy spending as much time with your children as possible.

Background on Michigan Parenting Time Laws

Parenting time falls under the umbrella of child custody law, which has been an evolving legal matter over the last century. A long time ago in Michigan the father had absolute rights to the children. Over time, this changed and evolved into the mother having a preference as the best parent. Today, the family division of Michigan circuit courts use a specific standard of determining child custody, known as the best interest of the child. This standard involves a gender neutral approach that assesses the ability of each parent to care for their children under the best interest standard.

The family division of the circuit court uses Michigan’s Child Custody Act of 1970 to determine the child’s custody, support and parenting time. The courts are required to apply the best interest standard regardless of whether the parties come to their own determination about custody and have no obligation to abide by any other agreement made outside the family courts. This includes agreements made through the alternative dispute resolution process.

Determining Parenting Time

Parenting time in Michigan is determined by the family courts, and will be granted to a parent in a way that promotes a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. This means the court will ultimately dictate the frequency of interactions, how long they last and even the type of interaction within reason. This might mean certain weekends, holidays, certain extended vacations; courts and parties can get creative in determining parenting time in Michigan.

Parties are free to come to an agreement on their own about parenting time in Michigan cases, however these agreements are subject to the court’s review of the “best interest of the child”, which means the court may deny or alter any outside agreements in parenting time. Parenting time is modifiable in Michigan by the parties consent or a party filing a motion, and the court making a determination if proper cause has been shown and if there is a change of circumstances, which warrant the modification.

Grand-Parenting Time

In Michigan, a presumption exists that a fit parent’s decision to deny grand-parenting time does not create a substantial risk of harm to the child. In order for a grandparent to be granted parenting time, they may need to petition for time with grandchildren if the parents are denying them access. This can be exceptionally frustrating for grandparents in certain circumstances, however it is not insurmountable.

In order to have parenting time granted, they must provide clear evidence that the parent’s decision to deny grand-parenting time creates a substantial risk of harm to the child’s mental, physical or emotional health. Proper evidence gathering combined with the clear presentation of the case to a court will go a long way in ensuring the grandparents receive the parenting time they deserve with their grandchildren. Most grandparents find the assistance of an experienced family law attorney invaluable in these situations.

Enforcement of Parenting Time

Sometimes there are situations which require the courts to enforce parenting time. In Michigan, this is handled by the Friend of the Court, who handles complaints surrounding the failure of a parent to follow the parenting time guidelines set out by the courts. If the Michigan Friend of the Court receives a written complaint with specific facts constituting a parenting time violation, they are required to investigate and if necessary take action through the courts.

A parenting time or custody order violation in Michigan is formally defined by MCL 552.602 section 2(e) as:

“an individual’s act or failure to act that interferes with a parent’s right to interact with his or her child in the time, place, and manner established in the order that governs custody or parenting time between the parent and the child and to which the individual accused of interfering is subject”

The remedy for a violation of a parenting time order in Michigan is usually to apply “make-up” time to the aggrieved parent, or if necessary schedule alternative dispute resolution or a joint meeting between the parents. If necessary your Michigan family law attorney can file a motion to enforce parenting time along with additional motions with the court to modify parenting time to ensure future compliance, and contempt proceedings could be initiated.

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