Reasonable Rights of Parenting Time Policy

How is Parenting Time Determined?

We believe the decisions that parents freely and voluntarily make concerning the custodial and parenting time arrangements for their children should be respected. Every family is unique, and that is why we prefer that parents devise their own parenting time schedule. We are committed to helping parents make those decisions, as opposed to imposing a particular plan upon families.  Some parents may choose to share physical custody of their children. In other situations, the children spend more of their time with one parent (the custodial parent) and have regular parenting time with the co-parent. 

The Michigan State Court Administrative Office published the Michigan Parenting Time Guidelines which provides an outline and examples of schedules commonly utilized by families in various situations.  You may want to review the Guidelines to look for ideas about how to choose a parenting time schedule that best fits your family. In he even that you have a conference. In the event that you have an upcoming conference with a Friend of the Court Investigator, you may find it helpful to complete the Parenting Time Worksheet contained in the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline booklet.    

However, there are situations where parents are unable to work out a parenting time schedule on their own.  In these situations, parents can expect that the Friend of the Court will take their unique family situation into account.  When parents cannot agree, our duty is to determine the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be exercised and to make recommendations to the court on a parenting time plan for the family.

Our recommendations are based upon our assessment of what parenting time schedule will work best for the children and both parents. We structure parenting time schedules with the following precepts in mind:

  • Every child has an inherent right to the love, affection and financial support of both parents.
  • Every child has a right to spend time with both parents and it is the responsibility of both parents to insure this right of their children. 

MCL 722.27a provides parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the best interest of the child.  It is presumed the best interest of the child is to have a strong relationship with both parents. A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.

The statutory factors that must be analyzed to determine the appropriate parenting time schedule for a given case are listed at MCL 722.27a.  Please review these factors with your attorney if you are represented or review them before a FOC conference or hearing if you are representing yourself.

The factors include: 

  1. The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child.
  2. 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.
  3. The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time.
  4. The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time.
  5. The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time.
  6. Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order.
  7. Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time.
    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.
  8. Any other relevant factors.

For all these reasons, a parenting time schedule may look very different in a family where, for example, the parents live hundreds of miles distant from one other than a family with an easy commute between the parents’ homes. A family where there has been a history of abuse and neglect of a child or domestic abuse by one parent against the other may need a very different schedule from a family without that history. A parent who has not been consistent about showing up to have time with the child/ren may require a more limited parenting time schedule than a parent who has been a regularly and actively involved parent. 

In some instances, including but not limited to parents with substance abuse disorders and/or mental illness, a parent may need to have his/her parenting time suspended for the safety of the child until the parent no longer poses a risk to the child. Supervised parenting time may also be a solution for parents who pose some risk to their child due to addiction, mental illness, or violent behaviors.

Many may have heard the term “Reasonable Rights of Parenting Time” and believe that this is a schedule that the court will assign to their case if you fail to include specifics in your pleadings.  This is not accurate. We strive to consider the facts and circumstances existing in each case and the needs of the child/ren when determining the frequency, duration and type of parenting time recommended.    

Sample Parenting Time Policy

The Court Order will normally define the hours and conditions for parenting time. In some cases, the Court Order will provide for Reasonable Parenting Time. The term reasonable means whatever the parties can agree upon, which is in the best interest of the children. 

The Court strongly encourages the parents to communicate to develop their own arrangements, which will take into consideration the unique circumstances of their family and can be changed from time to time. As the children grow and parents’ circumstances change, there will need to have flexibility in the parenting time schedule. 

If you consider what is enjoyable to the children rather than convenient or fair to you, your decision will probably be made in keeping with the children’s best interests.

Parenting Time Schedule Suggested Guidelines

At times, parents may be unable to agree on a reasonable parenting time schedule. When this occurs, the Court, through the Friend of the Court office, will become involved. The following guidelines shall serve as an order for the parties to follow for parenting time. At times, the guidelines may have to be altered or limited due to special conditions of the children or the parents.

If your order sets forth a specified parenting time schedule, that order will determine your parenting time schedule. 

  1. Parenting Schedules
  2. Holiday Schedule
  3. Other Observed Days
  4. Transportation
  5. Reminders

Parenting Schedule for Children Younger Than Two Years

  • Alternate weekends, Saturday 9 a.m. until Sunday at 6 p.m.
  • Two weekday evenings each week for two hours with a return time no later than 8 p.m.

Alternate Holidays

Children under two shall have holiday parenting time for the day and one overnight of the specific holiday from 9 a.m. the day of the holiday to the following day at 6 p.m, except the Christmas holiday when parenting time shall be from 9 a.m. Christmas Eve Day to 9 a.m. Christmas Day. 

During the Spring Holiday, the child shall have the normal alternating weekend parenting time.

Parenting Time Schedule for Children Age Two and Older

  • Alternate weekends from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday.
  • One weekday evening each week for two hours, with a return time no later than 8 p.m. Both Parties may agree on more than one day per week if desired.
  • Alternate Holidays (see Holidays section)

Extended Summer Parenting Time

Four non-consecutive weeks during the summer to be exercised as follows: 

  • The third week in June
  • The first and third weeks of July
  • The second week of August

The exchange of the children to occur on Sundays at 6 p.m. until the following Sunday at 6 p.m. During summer parenting time, the non-custodial parent shall not exercise their every other weekend or mid-week visits with the child(ren). However, if the non-custodial parent has less than 4 weeks of summer parenting time, they shall continue to exercise their alternate weekends of parenting time.