Often our clients most pressing concern is how parenting time will be allocated by the court. As the name implies, parenting time is the amount of time the court allows one parent to spend with their child(ren). Parenting time is laid out in the parenting time order. Once a parenting time order is entered by the court, it can be very difficult for the order to be changed. There are only certain instances, governed by a number of legal standards, in which a court will consider amending a parenting time order. Some of these instances are obvious (let’s say one of the parents is sent to prison), while some of them are less obvious (a child begins participating in a large number of extracurricular activities). You need to have an attorney on your side who explain to the court why your desires regarding parenting time should be recognized.
The Best Interest Factors
Everything in Michigan regarding parenting time revolves around what are the “best interests of the child.” These “best interests” are codified by MCL 722.23. The factors include the love, affection, and other emotional ties existing between the parties involved and the child, the capacity and disposition of the parties involved to provide the child with food, clothing, medical care, the moral fitness of the parties involved, the mental and physical health of the parties involved, the reasonable preferences of the child, the existence of any domestic violence, and other issues. All decisions made by the court will be guided by its analysis. It’s important that you have an attorney who has a full and complete understanding of the best interests factors so that they can be used to your benefit.
Modifying Parenting Time
Modifying parenting time can be a very difficult process. In order for the court to even consider a modification of a parenting time order, it must first be established that there has been a “change in circumstances.” It’s important to remember that a change in circumstances does not simply mean a change in one parent’s desire (i.e. just because a parent decides that they want to spent more time with their child does not mean there has been a change in circumstances). These are also not what are considered “normal life changes”. Thus a child going from elementary school to middle school would not qualify. In addition, if the modification of parenting time would change the custodial environment, then another legal standard would apply…
As you can see, it’s important that you have an attorney who understands the different legal standards that are applicable to modifying parenting time.
If you have a question or concern about the amount of court ordered parenting time that you’ve been allocated, contact the family law attorneys at Nessel and Kessel Law so that we can explain the best way for you to proceed.