Studies show that following a divorce with children, the children benefit from having a relationship with both parents. Under Michigan law, there is a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to continue to have a relationship with both parents. This continued relationship with the non-custodial parent is referred to as parenting time.
However, it is important to note that if the court determines that parenting time with one of the parents would be detrimental to the child's psychological and physical health, then parenting time may not be granted to that parent.
The best interest of the child standard is used by courts to establish how often, when and for how long parenting time should be granted. Michigan courts take into consideration several factors when determining what is best for the child. These factors include any special needs of the child, such as age, likelihood of neglect or abuse of the child, the burden and impact on the child any excessive travel may cause, how the parents have handled the exchange of the child and how the parental relationship was encouraged or promoted.
Typically, to provide structure and ensure that both sides know the schedule and what is required, a parenting time plan is put in place. The parenting time plan includes specific terms and conditions but can be flexible as well. The plan notes things such as how the transportation duties of the child will be divided, the division of transportation costs, specific pick-up and drop-off times and location and a reasonable requirement to notify the other party if parenting time is not possible at the scheduled time. Additionally, in some cases parenting time may occur only under supervised conditions or restrictions may be placed on who can be present when the parenting time is being exercised.
Parenting time plans are important to foster and encourage a healthy parental relationship with a child following a divorce. For anyone who has questions about parenting time plans or any family law issue, they may find it helpful to contact a family law attorney.
Source: State Court Administrative Office, "Parenting Time Guideline," Accessed April 27, 2015