The following provides general information about parenting time. There is no specific information available in this Self-Help Center to aid you in establishing parenting time because it is done through either a divorce case, a family support case, or a paternity case, and specific self-help is not available on this website for any of those types of cases. For specific information on processing a request to change an existing parenting-time order, see the Changing a Parenting Time Order Self-Help Center
. You may want to view the pamphlet, It's Important to Know Your Rights
Parenting time is time a child spends with his or her parents. A parenting-time order is based on the court's determination of the best interests of the child.
Under Michigan law it is presumed to be in the child's best interests to have a strong relationship with both parents. For guidance about parenting-time issues and enforcing your order, see Michigan Parenting Time Guideline.
The most common type of parenting-time arrangement is referred to as reasonable or liberal parenting time. This arrangement allows parents the greatest flexibility because it does not include specific days and time frames. As the child grows older, or as needs and schedules change, this type of order allows parents to adjust the parenting-time schedule without having to go back to court.
Another type of parenting-time arrangement is called specific parenting time. In this order the specific times, places, or conditions are defined and a new court order is needed to make any changes.
Enforcing Parenting Time Orders
Unless you have opted not to receive friend of the court services or your court order does not contain specific parenting-time language, the friend of the court will assist in enforcing parenting-time orders.
Parenting time is the right of both the parent and the child. When parents cannot resolve problems regarding parenting time, the friend of the court office in the county where the case is filed can help parents reach an agreement, and if appropriate, take action to enforce the court order. You may want to view the Model Friend of the Court Handbook for some common parenting-time questions and answers. Domestic relations mediation provides parents with the opportunity to communicate, cooperate, and, with the assistance of a neutral third party, resolve disputes regarding parenting time. Parties often find this rewarding, because they make the decisions instead of the judge or referee at a court proceeding or trial. If an agreement is reached during mediation, that agreement must be put in writing and signed by the parties. The friend of the court must provide, either directly or by contract, domestic relations mediation to assist the parties in voluntarily settling any dispute concerning parenting time.
The law says that upon receipt of a written complaint stating the specific facts alleging a violation of a parenting-time order, the friend of the court shall initiate enforcement proceedings. See MCL 552.511b. In addition, Michigan Court Rule, MCR 3.208(B), requires the friend of the court to enforce parenting-time provisions of the court's orders. These provisions may be enforced under the Friend of the Court Act or the Support and Parenting Time Enforcement Act. You may also want to view the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline.
The friend of the court must also, upon request, assist a party in preparing a written complaint regarding parenting time. See MCL 552.511b(1).
Once the friend of the court office receives a written complaint regarding parenting time, the office must do one of the following:
- apply a makeup parenting time policy
- schedule a contempt hearing
- schedule a meeting with the parties
For more information regarding parenting-time enforcement, see MCL 552.641.
Changing Parenting Time Orders
Unless you have opted not to receive friend of the court services, the friend of the court will assist in changing parenting time orders.
Some friend of the court offices will prepare a legal agreement (called a stipulation or consent order) for a change in parenting time. The agreement can be a result of mediation or a written agreement that is signed by both parents and submitted to the friend of the court office. Parents should check with their friend of the court office regarding office policy for preparing stipulations and consent orders. Find the address and phone number of your local friend of the court office.
Parenting-time orders are subject to modification by the court until the child reaches the age of 18. For additional information about how to file a motion to change a parenting-time order and what else you need to do, see the Changing a Parenting Time Order Self-Help Center.