Parenting Time

A parenting time (previously called visitation) 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 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) 

That statute also lists factors that the judge may consider when determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time. (MCL  722.27a[6]) 

Parenting Time Enforcement by the Friend of the Court
The Friend of the Court is required to enforce parenting time orders.  The Friend of the Court office usually will initiate enforcement action when it receives a written complaint stating specific facts that show a violation of an order governing custody or parenting time.  However, the Friend of the Court may decline to respond for any of the following reasons:

  • The alleged violation occurred more than 56 days before the  complaint is made.  
  • 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.
  • The court order does not include an enforceable parenting time provision.  

The Friend of the Court starts enforcement proceedings by sending a copy of the written complaint to the accused party within 14 days after the Friend of the Court office receives the complaint.  If it finds that the court’s order has been violated, the Friend of the Court may suggest “makeup” parenting time, start an action requiring the party to show cause why the court should not find the party in contempt, file a motion to modify existing parenting time provisions, schedule mediation, or schedule a joint meeting with the parties. 
Parenting Time Modification
A party may file a motion to change the parenting time order.  The Friend of the Court office has printed forms and instructions for filing this type of motion.  You may want to hire an attorney to assist you with the motion.
 
If both parents agree to change the parenting time arrangement, they may sign an agreement and present an order to the court.  It is important to remember that, even though 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 county clerk.

♦ Related Form: Motion Regarding Parenting Time
♦ Related Form: Response to Motion Regarding Parenting Time

♦ Related Publication: Osceola County Standard Parenting Time Schedule
♦ Related Publication: Osceola County Long Distance Parenting Time Schedule   
Parenting Time Questions and Answers
 
  • 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:  

          Δ Ask the other parent to agree to attend mediation with the Friend of the Court or  seek counseling (either with you or separately).
          Δ Ask the Friend of the Court to determine whether the order is specific enough to allow the office to offer assistance.         
          Δ File a motion on your own or contact an attorney. 

  • My order lays 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 sign the agreement, or otherwise prove to the court that you agree.  The judge usually will sign an order that is based on the parents’ agreement.  Remember that the agreement by itself is not enforceable; it must first be converted into a new court order. 

If you cannot agree on the changes, either parent may ask the Friend of the Court to mediate the dispute.  The Friend of the Court 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.  You may file the motion on your own, or have an attorney file it for you.

  • The other parent is not making the child support payments required by our court order.  Do I have to allow parenting time?

Yes, you must continue to obey the order’s parenting time provisions.  Ask the Friend of the Court to enforce the child support  provisions. 

  • The other parent is not sending or returning clothing or other personal items that our child uses during parenting time.  Can the Friend of the Court do something about that?

The Friend of the Court 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 Friend of the Court mediation services.  If that is unsuccessful, you may file a motion requesting a new court order that will require that clothing or other personal items be transferred along with your child before and after parenting time. 

  •  The other parent is not obeying the parenting time order.  What can I do?

File a written complaint with the Friend of the Court.  (see Parenting Time Enforcement)

  • 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 punished.
 
  • The other parent will not let me telephone my children.  What can the Friend of the Court do?

The Friend of the Court can only enforce the written orders of the court.  If your court order does not provide for specific telephone call date and times, try to negotiate an agreement with the other parent.  You may request Friend of the Court mediation or other methods of resolution.  In addition, you may file a motion asking the court to modify the order to require that you be allowed to call your children.  

  • 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 Human Services’ Child Protective Services Division in the county where the custodial parent and children live.  The Friend of the Court 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. 

  • My child does not want to spend time with the other parent.  What can I do?

Parents must obey court orders regardless of the child’s age and preferences.  Each parent must try to promote a positive  relationship between the child and the other parent.  You may want to try the following:

          ♦ Work out a different arrangement with the other parent.
          ♦ Seek counseling for your child, yourself, or the other parent.
          ♦ Contact the Friend of the Court and request mediation.
          ♦ File a motion asking the court to change your parenting time order. 

  • The other parent refuses to see our children.  What can the Friend of the Court do?

The Friend of the Court cannot force a parent to see his or her children.  To promote a positive relationship with the children and the  other parent, you may wish to consider counseling, mediation, or filing a motion to change the parenting time order.