The law presumes that it is in the best interests of the child(ren) to have a strong relationship with both parents. Michigan law provides that parenting time should be “of a frequency, duration and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child(ren) and the parent.” The child(ren) has a right to parenting time unless the Court determines on the record, by clear and convincing evidence, that parenting time would endanger the child(ren)’s physical, mental or emotional health. MCLA 722.27a.
When two parents are unable to work together and agree upon parenting time, the non-custodial parent has a statutory right to obtain from the Court a specific parenting time order which may include any reasonable terms or conditions which apply. MCLA 722.27a(8). Such terms and conditions may include:
- Division of the responsibility to transport the child(ren);
- Division of the costs of transporting the child(ren);
- Restrictions on the presence of third persons during parenting time;
- Requirements that the child(ren) be ready for parenting time at a specific time;
- Requirement that the parent arrive for parenting time and return the child(ren) from parenting time at specific times;
- Requirement that parenting time occur in the presence of a third party or agency;
- Requirement of reasonable notice when parenting time will not occur and any other reasonable condition determined to be appropriate in a particular case.
The custodial parent is expected to encourage the child(ren) to participate in parenting time with the other parent. The following are examples of inappropriate reasons for denying parenting time:
- The child(ren) has a minor illness;
- The child(ren) had to go somewhere else;
- The child(ren) was not at home;
- The non-custodial parent is behind in support;
- The custodial parent did not want the child(ren) to go;
- The weather was bad;
- The child(ren) had no clothes to wear;
- The child(ren) refused to go;
- The other party failed to meet other conditions unilaterally imposed by the custodial parent;
While the Court will not ignore serious threats to a child’s physical or emotional health, the parent opposing parenting time must carry the burden of persuading the Court that a dangerous situation exists.