Custody & Parenting Time
(231) 779-9494, ext. 2007
AN INTRODUCTION TO CUSTODY
Parents are encouraged to reach their own agreements regarding custody. When parents cannot agree, the court will decide by analyzing the “best interests of the child” factors listed in the Michigan Child Custody Act. Those factors will be analyzed at a hearing, during which the parents may present evidence and arguments about each factor.
At either parent’s request, the court must consider ordering joint custody. “Joint custody” means either the child resides alternatively for specific periods with each parent, or the parents share decision-making authority for important decisions affecting the welfare of the child, or both. If both parents agree to a joint custody arrangement, the court must order it unless the court determines that joint custody is not in the “best interests of the child.” The court must state its reasons for granting or denying the request for joint custody. The court may also consider ordering joint custody even if neither parent has requested it. A court that is considering ordering joint custody must consider both the “best interests” factors and also whether the parents will be able to cooperate and usually agree on important decisions affecting their child’s welfare.
If the court determines that a child’s interests are not adequately represented in the custody proceedings, the court may appoint a lawyer guardian ad litem to represent the child. The court may require the parties to pay the lawyer guardian ad litem’s fees. For more information about child custody issues, see the Michigan Custody Guidelines.
AN INTRODUCTION TO PARENTING TIME
A parenting-time order specifies when a child will spend time with each parent. A parent is responsible for all routine decisions that affect the child during his or her parenting time. The Michigan Child Custody Act states: “Parenting time shall be granted to a parent in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. If the parents of a child agree on parenting time terms, the court shall order the parenting time terms . . . [unless it is shown] that the parenting time terms are not in the best interests of the child. A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health. [MCL 722.27a(1)–(3).]”
The statute also lists factors that the judge may consider when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time. [MCL 722.27a(6)(a)-(i).]
The Friend of the Court Bureau’s Parenting-Time Guidelines are available on the Michigan Supreme Court’s website or by clicking the link.
Each local FOC office has it’s own county-specific guidelines–you can find the Wexford/Missaukee Friend of the Court Parenting Time Policy here. In some situations, issues and disagreements that arise regarding parenting time may be resolved through ADR. You should contact your local FOC office to determine what services may be available and whether they are appropriate for the situation.
The FOC is required to enforce parenting-time orders. The FOC office usually starts enforcement action when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts that show a violation of an order governing custody or parenting time.
The FOC may decline to respond if: (1) the alleged violation occurred more than 56 days before the complaint is made; (2) the complaining party has previously made two or more similar complaints that were found by the court to be unwarranted and the complaining party has failed to pay the costs assessed in those prior proceedings; or (3) the court order does not include an enforceable parenting time provision.
The FOC starts enforcement proceedings by sending a copy of the written complaint to the other party within 14 days of the FOC office’s receipt of the complaint. If the FOC finds that the court’s order has been violated, the FOC has the following options:
- Apply “makeup” parenting time
- Start an action requiring the party who is accused of denying parenting time to show cause why the court should not find the party in contempt
- Schedule a joint meeting with the parties
To Change Your Order
A party may file a motion to change the custody or parenting-time order, if the party can show proper cause or a change in circumstances. The FOC office has printed forms and instructions for filing this type of motion. Parties have the option of hiring an attorney to assist with the motion, if they choose. Even in cases where the parties have agreed to a change, the current order remains in effect until the judge signs a new order and it is filed with the court clerk.
IF YOU WISH TO CHANGE YOUR CUSTODY OR PARENTING TIME ORDER, YOU ARE WELCOME TO FILE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING:
MOTION REGARDING CUSTODY
RESPONSE TO MOTION REGARDING CUSTODY
MOTION REGARDING PARENTING TIME
RESPONSE TO MOTION REGARDING PARENTING TIME
MOTION REGARDING DOMICILE/LEGAL RESIDENCE
RESPONSE TO MOTION REGARDING DOMICILE/LEGAL RESIDENCE