Monday, April 5, 2010

Michigan Parenting time comments by Flint Divorce Lawyer Terry Bankert.

When you are not the custodial parent one of the first questions you may ask is what is my parenting time and how is it established?

• The elements of a parenting time order must be in the best interests of the child. So what is that? See below.

•The Family Court will have a presumption that it is in the best interests of the child to have a strong relationship with both mother and father.

• Your parenting time order should have a frequency, type, and duration of parenting time that must be reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time.

• Your child has a right to parenting time with both parents unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that parenting time would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.

What if mother and father  agree on parenting time. 

The Family Court must order the parenting time terms unless it finds on the , verbal in court, record by clear and convincing evidence that the terms are not in the child’s best interests. The judge may ask the parents specific questions.

How does it happen that  parenting time may not be ordered. 

• When one of the parents has hurt the child .Parenting time of a child conceived as a result of criminal sexual conduct or assault with intent may not be awarded to the convicted biological parent (except if the criminal sexual conduct was based solely on the victim’s being between 13 and 16 years old), unless, after conviction, the biological parents cohabit and establish a mutual custodial environment for the child.

So what are the Best Interests factors. They are the law of Michigan on how a judge decides custody and may be used in parenting time decisions.There is a split of opinion whether the court must make findings on all best interests factors or only contested factors.

The  Court determination of the best interests of the child means the sum total of the following factors:

(a) The love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child.

(b) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to give the child love, affection, and guidance and to continue the education and raising of the child in his or her religion or creed, if any.

(c) The capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care or other remedial care recognized and permitted under the laws of this state in place of medical care, and other material needs.

(d) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment, and the desirability of maintaining continuity.

(e) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home or homes.

(f) The moral fitness of the parties involved.

(g) The mental and physical health of the parties involved.

(h) The home, school, and community record of the child.

(i) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express preference.

(j) The willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents.

(k) Domestic violence, regardless of whether the violence was directed against or witnessed by the child.

(l) Any other factor considered by the court to be relevant to a particular child custody dispute.

There are also some Parenting time factors the court can use.

The court may consider the following factors in deciding the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time:
(a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
(b) Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing.
(c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
(d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
(e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time.
(f) Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
(g) Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
(h) The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent.
(i) Any other relevant factors.

If You have additional questions contact
Terry Bankert at