A parenting time order determines when a child spends time with each parent. Parenting time orders should not be a one-size-fits-all since families are not all the same. It is always best if parents can work out when parenting time will occur since parents know when they work, what activities a child is involved in, and other details that impact parenting time. The Co-Parenting Communication Guide (PDF) is a great resource for parents figuring out how to best work with one another.
The Michigan Child Custody Act of 1970 states: "It is in the best interest of the child to have frequent and constant contact with the non-custodial parent. If the parents agree on parenting time terms, the Court shall order those parenting time terms, unless the Court determines on the record that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child. A child shall have a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that the parenting time would jeopardize the child's physical, mental or emotional health."
The Custody Act states that the Judge may consider the following factors when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted:
- The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
- 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.
- The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
- The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
- The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time.
- Whether the visiting parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
- Whether the visiting parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
- 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 is intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
- Any other relevant factors.
The FOC must begin enforcement proceedings when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts including dates, times, and reasons given, about an alleged denial of parenting time, and when the FOC determines that there is reason to believe the court's order has been violated. If the FOC has reason to believe that the parenting time order may have been violated, the office may do one or more of the following, at its discretion:
- Order make-up parenting time.
- Refer the parents to mediation.
- Schedule a show cause for contempt.
Either parent may also petition the court to hold the other parent in contempt for violation of the court order or to change the existing parenting time order. This process can be accomplished either through the use of forms allowing a parent to act as their own attorney (n pro per) or by hiring a private attorney to represent them.
Prior to filing any motions regarding custody and/or parenting time, the parties must attend mediation. If you are having difficulties with the other parent regarding these issues and would like to try to resolve or intend to file a motion regarding the same, you will need to first request that mediation be scheduled. A member of our staff will send the appropriate referral to Community Mediation Services who will be in contact with you to schedule the mediation. If a settlement is reached, the agency will provide a copy of the settlement agreement to the Friend of the Court office, who will then prepare an administrative order encompassing that agreement. Please note that support-related matters are not to be addressed during custody or parenting time mediation as it is a separate issue and has its own guidelines and requirements. If mediation is unsuccessful, then either party may proceed to file a motion and schedule a hearing before the Judge.