Okemos Family Law Lawyers | Parenting Time

Parenting time, commonly called “visitation”, is Court ordered time for each parent to spend with the minor child(ren).

The law in Michigan establishes a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to have a strong relationship with both parents.  The law indicates that parenting time should be of a frequency, duration and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child(ren) and the parent.

A Parenting Time Guideline has been created by the State Court Administrator Office – Friend of the Court Bureau, however these guidelines have not been adopted by every county in Michigan.  Therefore, it is important to know the parenting time guideline used by the county where your case is pending.

Can the parents agree on a parenting time arrangement?

Yes, if both parents agree to a parenting time schedule the Court will usually enter the agreement as a Court order.  However, the Court may determine on the record, through the presentation of clear and convincing evidence, that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child.

What happens if the parents cannot agree on a parenting time arrangement?

If you and the other parent cannot agree on a parenting time arrangement, early in the Court proceedings, your case will be referred to the Friend of the Court in the county in which the case is pending.

The Friend of the Court may hold a Conciliation Conference or conduct an investigation before making a decision.  Once any additional steps are taken, the Friend of the Court will make a recommendation regarding the parenting time arrangement.

A party always has a right to object to a Friend of the Court recommendation.  If one party objects, then the matter will be scheduled for a hearing in front of the judge.

What does the Court consider when determining the length, frequency and type of parenting time?

The Court considers several factors when determining the length, frequency and type of parenting time, as follows:

  1. The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child(ren).
  2. Whether the child is a nursing child less than six months of age, or less than one year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.
  3. The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
  4. The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
  5. The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time.
  6. Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the Court order.
  7. Whether the parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
  8. 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.
  9. Any other relevant factors.

MCL 722.27a

What terms does a parenting order contain?

A parenting time order may contain any reasonable terms or conditions that facilitate the orderly and meaningful exercise of parenting time by a parent, including one or more of the following:

  1. Division of the responsibility to transport the child.
  2. Division of the cost of transporting the child.
  3. Restrictions on the presence of third persons during parenting time.
  4. Requirements that the child be ready for parenting time at a specific time.
  5. Requirements that the parent arrive for parenting time and return the child from parenting time at specific times.
  6. Requirements that parenting time occur in the presence of a third party or agency.
  7. Requirements that a party post a bond to assure compliance with a parenting time order.
  8. Requirements of reasonable notice when parenting time will not occur.
  9. Any other reasonable condition determined to be appropriate in the particular case.

MCL 722.27a

Can a parent refuse parenting time if child support is not paid?

No, parenting time and child support are separate issues.

Can a judge order supervised parenting time or no parenting time?

Yes, a judge can order supervised parenting time or no parenting time, but there must be clear and convincing evidence that parenting time would endanger the child(ren)’s physical, mental or emotional health.