A parenting time order specifies when a child will spend time with each parent. During parenting time, that parent is responsible for all routine decisions affecting the child.
The Michigan Child Custody Act provides that parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the best interests of the child 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 that parenting time unless the 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)
- My order for parenting time states I will have “reasonable” parenting time. What does this mean?
An order that grants “reasonable” parenting time assumes that you and the other parent will agree to a parenting time schedule that is convenient for both of you and the child. If you and the other parent cannot agree on a “reasonable parenting time” schedule you may file a motion on your own to modify parenting time or contact an attorney. The forms and instructions for filing are available on this website. If you have retained an attorney (for any reason) you cannot file this motion on your own. You must contact your attorney and have him/her do the filing.
- My order sets out a specific parenting time schedule. I would like to change that schedule. What can I do?
First, ask the other parent to agree to a change. If you agree, then both of you should file a “Stipulated Motion for Change of Custody, Parenting Time and/or Domicile.” The form and instructions are available on this website. You will be scheduled to meet with the FOC mediator. The Judge will usually sign an approvable order that is based on the parents’ agreement. The agreement by itself is not enforceable; it must first be signed by the Judge as the new court order.
If you cannot agree on the changes, either parent may ask the FOC to mediate the dispute. The FOC will provide mediation services if both parents agree to participate. If no agreement is possible, you may file a motion asking the court to order a new parenting time schedule. The forms and instructions for filing are available on this website. If you have retained an attorney (for any reason) you cannot file this motion on your own. You MUST contact your attorney and have him/her do the filing.
- I am not getting my parenting time that the court ordered. What do I do?
Minor problems with parenting time are best resolved by the parties. With major and/or recurrent parenting time problems, the FOC office may be contacted in writing by filing a “Parenting Time Affidavit.” The form and instructions are available on this website. Once reviewed by a Friend of the Court mediator, the parties may be asked to meet with the mediator to attempt to resolve the problems. If the problems cannot be resolved, the case may be set for a hearing before the Circuit Court Referee. Possible sanctions for noncompliance with a court order include makeup parenting time, imposition of court costs, or even the imposition of jail time. Friend of the Court staff do not solve parenting time problems between the parties; rather, FOC staff are available to assist the parties in creating their own solutions to the problem.
- The other parent wrongfully withholds my parenting time. Do I still need to pay my full child support obligation?
Yes. Withholding parenting time that has been ordered by the court is wrong. Failure to pay court ordered child support is also wrong. Two wrongs do not make a right.
- May I take my children out-of-state for a vacation without first obtaining court approval?
Normally, yes. Vacations of a duration of two weeks or less normally do not require court approval. Protracted out-of-state vacations and all changes of domicile normally require court approval because such action will influence the rights of the other parent.
- The other parent is not sending or returning clothing or other personal items that our child uses during parenting time. Can the FOC do something about that?
The FOC can only enforce the court’s written orders. If your court order does not say anything specific about transferring clothing or other personal items, try to work it out with the other parent directly or with help, such as FOC mediation services. If that is unsuccessful, you may file a motion requesting a modification. The forms and instructions are available on this website.
- If I think that the other parent is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, do I have to let the children go with that other parent for scheduled parenting time?
That is your decision as a parent. If you violate the court order in such a situation, you may have to explain your decision to the court at a “show cause” hearing held to decide whether you should be held in contempt of court for disobeying the parenting time order. That will be your opportunity to explain why your decision was in the best interests of the children. If the Judge agrees, you will not be held in contempt or otherwise sanctioned.
- The other parent will not let me telephone my children. What can the FOC do?
The FOC can only enforce the written orders of the court. If your court order does not provide for telephone calls, try to negotiate an agreement with the other parent. You may request FOC mediation or other methods of resolution. In addition, you may file a motion asking the court to modify the parenting time order to require that you be allowed to call your children. The forms and instructions are available on this website.
- I think that my child is being abused during parenting time spent with the other parent. What should I do?
Report your concerns to the Department of Health and Human Services-Child Protective Services Division in the county where the custodial parent and children live. The FOC does not have the authority to investigate abuse or neglect allegations, nor can it remove children from the home of a person who commits or allows mistreatment. Only Child Protective Services can do that.
- I have been served papers for a change in our order and I disagree with the information given or want the FOC to know more before court. What can I do?
File a “Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time” available on this website.
- I disagree with the Referee’s Recommendation. What can I do?
You can file for a DeNovo Review by the assigned Judge. The forms and instructions are available on this website.