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Mussin & Scanland, PLLC
13351 Reeck Court, Suite 5
Southgate, Michigan 48195
Parents who are separating are often faced with the difficulty of working out custody and determining how, going forward, the children will spend time with each parent now that they are living apart from one another. It is always the goal to work with your ex-partner to determine what plans work best not only for you and your ex, but more importantly, for your children. Children thrive by being with both parents as much as possible, and this makes coming up with workable solutions in everyone’s best interests.
Michigan recognizes that when parents separate or divorce, the child(ren)’s best interests are served by continuation of the parent/child relationship. Once physical/custodial custody (where the child/children will reside) is figured out, the next step is to determine parenting time (sometimes referred to as visitation). In this respect, Michigan courts seek to provide parenting time in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the chid(ren) and the parent.
In short, this means the child/children’s best interests are served by having a solid and continuing relationship with both parents. In determining the length, frequency and type of parenting time, Michigan Court’s look to several factors (MCL 722.27a):
Regardless of whether one parent has sole physical custody or not, parenting time can be set at a frequency and duration agreed upon by the parties or ordered by the court. Some common examples of different parenting time arrangements are:
In determining the parenting time schedule, courts will look to the best interest factors however, it is always best for the parents to come up with a schedule that works for them and the children. In addition to the standard parenting time schedule, parents need to also consider holidays, school breaks, and summer vacation. These are typically agreed upon by the parties or, in most counties, via a state or county co-parenting time plan available at most courts.
Parenting time can be one of the more difficult areas to work out as it not only entails the where, when, and how long parents spend with their children, but also includes figuring out holidays, birthdays, vacations, and schedules. In addition to those items, parents will need to determine pick up and drop off locations, expenses associated with extended travel for pick up and drop off, determining how long a parent must wait for the other parent, and even the transport of the childrens’ personal belongings between homes.
Problems often arise in a number of situations which can include things such as:
In many of these cases, one parent is violating an order of the court or has taken a course of action that is not serving the child’s best interests. In these situations there are a number of options and mechanisms available to parents:
Motion to Modify Parenting Time. This motion seeks to modify parenting time to address problems that make the prior order unworkable or difficult. In these situations, parties must show evidence than the other parent is either violating a court order or the current order is no longer in the childs best interests and there are grounds to change the parenting time order. Some of the remedies include:
Motion for Contempt/Show Cause. This motion requires the parties to appear before the circuit court judge and explain to the court why they are violating the court order. If found in contempt, the judge can sanction the party monetarily, order the violating party to pay attorney fees, reduce parenting time, restrict parenting time, and in some situations, jail time for each violation of the Court’s order.
When considering filing a motion, parents need to understand the process is not simple and often difficult to navigate. Show cause motions require hearing before the judge and an order must be obtained directing the party to appear and must be personally served. Parenting time motions are generally not heard before the judge assigned to your case. Typically, they are assigned to a referee at the Friend of the Court (FOC) who will hear the evidence and make a recommendation. The parents then have 21-days to accept or file objections to the referee recommendation. If a parent decides to object to the recommendations, a second motion must be filed to address the referee findings before the judge who will either affirm or set them aside and schedule the matter for further hearings.
As you can see, parenting time is not a simple process. It requires knowledge of the court, burdens of proof, proper arguments, and evidence. Having one of our experienced parenting time attorneys assist you will provide you the best opportunity to fully address your concerns.
Regardless of your personal feelings about your ex, your children need a healthy connection with their other parent. Keep snide comments to yourself and don’t discuss your parenting frustrations with your children. Remind them about mom or dad’s birthday and holiday gifts. Make time in the weekly schedule for phone calls, cards, email, and letters to keep the children’s connection alive when your co-parent is at a distance.
Allow your Children to be children. Don’t force them to choose between Mommy or Daddy. Support Co-Parenting.
Please send us a message any time with your question or to set up an appointment. Initifal Consulations are always free.
PARENTING TIME LAWYER
Parenting time is not an easy process. Numerous factors make up parenting time considerations include such things as frequency, duration, pick up/drop off, holidays, violations of orders, and seeking enforcement or modification. It is about the child’s needs being the first priority and the parenting time order must look first and foremost to the best interests and needs of the child(ren).
At Mussin & Scanland, our Custody lawyers' vast experience will assist you though the entire process and help you to understand your rights, what to expect, what each part of the process means, and the likely outcome of decisions affecting your custody. We are conveniently located downriver in Southgate and service Wayne, Oakland, Monroe and Washtenaw Counties.