3 Types of Michigan Child Custody Orders

During the custody process, the court may issue several types of orders, all of which carry legal consequences if not followed.

It may issue orders for one-off things like paternity testing, mediation or a custody investigation.

In addition, it may give temporary or ex parte orders before ultimately issuing final custody orders.

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Temporary orders

Temporary custody orders, sometimes called preliminary orders, help ensure stability for children while a case is in progress. They include a schedule and child support arrangement that parents must follow until the case has final orders.

Soon after opening a case, parents meet with their Friend of the Court (FOC) case manager to discuss a temporary order.

If parents agree on terms, the case manager prepares the temporary order for them to sign. In some counties, the manager files the temporary order with the court, while in others, parents must submit it to the court clerk themselves.

When parents can't agree on temporary custody, the FOC makes a custody recommendation to the court. Your case manager might make it, or an FOC custody expert may make it after doing an investigation. Either way, the recommendation becomes a temporary order unless a parent files an objection, prompting an objection hearing.

As an alternative to the FOC process, parents can file a motion requesting temporary custody when they open or respond to a case. The court will schedule a motion hearing, in which a judge or domestic relations referee issues a temporary order after parents present evidence arguing for their proposed arrangement.

Ex parte (emergency) orders

When filing for temporary custody or a personal protection order, a parent can ask the court to make the decision ex parte (without the other parent's involvement).

Ex parte orders, sometimes called emergency orders, get issued rapidly, making them common in cases with domestic violence or child abuse.

Ex parte orders are a subset of temporary orders. An ex parte custody order stays in effect until it's replaced by a final custody order, and an ex parte personal protection order stays in effect for at least 182 days.

A motion for an ex parte order requires a hearing in two situations:

  • If the court denies it and the requesting parent files an objection within 21 days
  • If the court approves it and the other parent objects within 14 days of being served a copy by the requesting parent

In these instances, both parents attend an ex parte objection hearing and present evidence to a judge or domestic relations referee.

Final orders

Final orders bring a case to a close. They lay out a parenting schedule and child support payment, plus address any other issues in the case. If parents agree on a parenting plan, they can ask the court to include it in a final order, as well.

A final order stays in effect until the children involved turn 18 or graduate from high school (whichever is later), unless the court modifies the order first.

In a settlement, parents work together to create a final order (sometimes called a consent order or consent judgment) for a judge to approve in a settlement hearing.

If parents don't settle, they can let the Friend of the Court's custody recommendation become a final order. Or each can propose a final order during a final custody hearing.

Complying with orders

You must follow your court orders to the letter. If you don't, the Friend of the Court office can enforce the order, potentially leading to jail time and other repercussions.

But court orders are complicated, and orders for parenting time can be particularly tricky. When exactly does "Week 2" begin this month? Which day is considered the middle of winter break?

Use Custody X Change to transform your order into a calendar you can edit and print, so you'll never have to wonder whether you're staying in compliance.

With the Custody X Change app, you can combine parenting schedules for the school year, school breaks and holidays into one master calendar. Making changes is easy; just click and drag.

Take advantage of our technology so you never have to wonder if you're interpreting the court's order correctly.

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