A Parenting Time Order establishes the amount of time between a parent and children. Nearly all orders provide for "reasonable rights" of parenting time. This means that the parents have the responsibility for setting up a mutually agreed upon schedule, which is reasonable under the circumstances. If parents cannot agree as to what constitutes "reasonable parenting time", they are then bound by the courts specific parenting time order.
Parenting Time Enforcement
The FOC is required to enforce parenting time ordered by the court. Parenting time (previously called visitation) is usually addressed in a particular provision of your Judgment/Order. The arrangements or schedule of parenting time in the Judgment/Order provides the basic rules on how parenting time is to occur. When these rules are not followed by one of the parents, the other must file a written complaint with the Friend of the Court Office if enforcement is wanted.
The Friend of the Court will begin enforcement proceedings when it receives a written complaint stating the specific facts including dates, times and reasons given, about an alleged denial of parenting time.
The Friend of the Court will process a 21-day notice to both parties after it has been determined that there is reason to believe that the court’s order has been violated.
If the issue is not resolved between the parties within the 21 days, the Friend of the Court will refer the case to Mediation Services if applicable.
The parties referred to Mediation Services will be contacted and an appointment will be scheduled to meet and discuss the current issue. If a resolution is reached, the Mediation Services will submit a copy of said agreement to the Friend of the Court. Upon receiving this, the Friend of the Court would schedule an office appointment if necessary to make any changes to the parenting time order that was agreed upon by the parties at Mediation.
If the parties are not able to reach an agreement, refuse to attend, or contact cannot be made by Mediation Services to schedule an appointment, the Friend of the Court will schedule a hearing in front of the Attorney/Referee in the Friend of the Court office.
Parenting Time Modification
If a party is seeking a modification to the current parenting time order and the parties are not in agreement, the party seeking changes will need to file a motion on their own or with an attorney in front of the judge assigned to their case.
There are areas of parenting time which are not always specifically addressed in the parenting time order. In the absence of a specific order addressing these areas, the FOC will enforce the following:
- Transportation: Unless provided for otherwise, the parents will share transportation for parenting time. The parent exercising parenting time will pick the child/ren up at the beginning of parenting time. The other parent will pick up the child/ren at the end of the parenting time. Each parent may have any licensed driver supply the transportation.
- Physical Attempt: the parent exercising parenting time must be at the court ordered location, at the court ordered time, on the court ordered day, to attempt access.
- Tardiness: There is one-half hour flexibility after the specified exchange time on occasion for good reason.
- Week: A week is 7 (seven) consecutive days to encompass the regularly scheduled weekend of the parent exercising parenting time beginning and ending on the same day of the week.
- Holidays: The holidays to alternate are identified as New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Father’s Day shall be spent with Father and Mother’s Day shall be spent with Mother.
Having trouble co-parenting?
Having trouble co-parenting? The free SMILE program (Start Making it Livable for Everyone) may be able to help you. The SMILE program was designed to help educate parents on how separation impacts children and how parents can help their children adjust. The program also offers tips on how to work better with the other parent, for the sake of the children. The video is now available for free online at the following link: https://micase.state.mi.us/micaseapp/public/partnerTools.html
COVID-19 and Parenting time - Some answers
We understand that many parents have questions regarding custody, parenting time, and child support right now. The Friend of the Court is not allowed to give legal advice: you must contact an attorney for this. However, the State has provided some guidance for the public and the Friend of the Court to follow. Specifically, the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-21 (COVID-19) requires all non-essential workers to Stay Home, Stay Safe for the next three weeks beginning March 24, 2020. The order specifically allows individuals to travel for the following reasons 1) to return home from outside the state, 2) to leave the state for a home elsewhere, 3) to travel between two residences in this state, and 4) as required by a court order, including the transportation of children pursuant to a custody agreement. This order is consistent with the stance taken by the Michigan Supreme Court, who issued a statement which provides in part, “The Supreme Court wants to remind parents that all court orders for a child’s custody, parenting time and child support are still in force. Only a new court order can change that. Parents should continue to follow their court orders.” The Michigan Supreme Court also issued an order on March 18, 2020, which directed courts to reschedule non-emergency hearings and appointments. If you believe you have an emergency situation, you may file a motion in Circuit Court. The judge will decide whether the situation is an emergency and needs to be handled right away, or if it must be scheduled out to a later date to comply with the directives above. The Michigan Friend of the Court Bureau has indicated they are working to provide answers to frequently asked questions, and will be publishing this information to the public when available. Please check back to their website for more information