Parenting Time Decisions

Determining how much time each parent spends with their children.

Parenting time in Grand Rapids, closely related to child custody in Grand Rapids, deals with how much time each parent spends with the child. It could be a few hours a day, or days / weeks at a time. The type and length of parenting time for each parent will depend on a number of factors, such as work schedules, and the age and needs of the child. At all times, the child's best interest should be kept in mind; to the point of being as flexible as possible with the other parent regarding schedules and time.

Judges encourage parents to determine their own parenting time schedule, but if this cannot be done the Judge (usually with the help of the Friend of the Court) will decide parenting time.

Frequently Asked Questions

The questions and answers below are intended to provide general information with regard to common questions on parenting time based on laws in the State of Michigan. They are not intended to constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with a divorce specialist or attorney.

Similarly, since every case is different we recommend consulting with a divorce specialist or attorney for advice related to your specific set of circumstances.

Courts in Michigan do not presume 50/50 parenting time with each parent. However, a court is mandated to consider joint physical custody, if requested. "Consider" does not mean joint physical custody will be granted. Also, joint physical custody does not necessarily mean equal parenting time. This is not to say that 50/50 parenting time is not happening in Michigan. It has actually been occurring much more in the last five to ten years, but more often by agreement of the parties, rather than being mandated by the court.

Both parents are responsible for the payment of child care. Child care is factored into the Michigan Child Support Formula, with each parent paying a proportionate share depending on the relative incomes of the parents and the amount of parenting time each parent has.

A parent cannot prevent the parent who fails to pay child support from seeing the child. The rights and responsibilities for paying child support and having parenting time are independent of one another and will be enforced independently. The old adage is: "You do not pay to see your child."

While a case is pending courts will typically prohibit the minor children from being around a boyfriend or girlfriend overnight. Once the case is finalized, that prohibition is almost never in place, unless the boyfriend or girlfriend are a risk to the minor children.

This question is almost impossible to answer without knowing the facts in any particular case. If the situation is so serious that it might justify a parent withholding the children, typically that parent should be filing a complaint with Child Protective Services. However, complaints to Child Protective Services should not be used as a weapon to keep children from the other parent. To receive a proper judgment regarding a parent's right to protect the children, that parent should consult their attorney about the facts in their particular case.

There must be a significant reason(s) to change either parenting time or custody once a final order has been entered. Requirements for changing parenting time are less stringent than the requirements for a change of custody. A change in parenting time could be justified by a change in circumstances significant enough to justify the change. A change in custody can only be granted if there is significant evidence that there are events occurring in the child's life which require the court to readdress the question of custody. The issues involved in change of parenting time and custody are so serious and fact-specific, that one must consult a qualified divorce or custody specialist.

It is submitted that parenting time is a much more important consideration than the "custody" label.

A child's simple refusal to go with the other parent is very often, by itself, not reason enough for parenting time not to occur. Should such a situation present itself, the custodial parent should understand with specific facts why the child does not want to go. A simple difference in rules or non-abusive treatment by the visiting parent is usually not enough to prevent parenting time. If the situation continues to present itself, it is likely the child and parents could benefit from proper counseling with the child to explore the reasons for the child's refusal.

If the Judgment or Order does not provide for phone contact, and if there is a consistent refusal to allow it, then the parent desiring the phone contact must get the court Order or Judgment of Divorce amended to provide for such contact. Since it is often a mutual benefit of both parents to have phone contact, the first place to start is a mutual decision that each parent should be allowed reasonable phone contact with the children when the children are not with them. Mediation of the issue is also a possibility either through the Friend of the Court, or a private mediator. Likely the last method for solving the problem will be a motion and a court appearance to get the Judgment or Order amended.

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