Michigan Parenting Time Schedule Guidelines

Your parenting time schedule is a court order that details physical custody — when your children spend time with each parent. It's different from an overall parenting plan, which explains the details of your legal custody arrangement.

Lawyers, mediators, Friend of the Court case managers, and custody technology can help you make a parenting schedule.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting schedules and plans.

Make My Michigan Schedule Now

If parents agree on a schedule, they submit it for the court's approval as part of a settlement.

If they can't agree, the Friend of the Court (FOC) office may recommend a schedule to the court, often after doing an investigation. If neither parent files an objection, the recommendation becomes a court order. If a parent does object, the case goes to a hearing, where each parent can propose a schedule.

In some cases, the FOC doesn't make a recommendation, and the parents go directly to a final custody hearing.

To prepare for a potential custody recommendation, it's a good idea to go to all your FOC meetings with a proposed parenting schedule in hand.

Before you make a parenting time schedule

Before you put together a schedule, whether it's for a settlement or a hearing, consider:

Be sure to also review Michigan's parenting time manual.

Types of parenting time

The vast majority of parenting time is specific, meaning it follows a set schedule. Specific schedules prevent confusion, create comforting routines for children and can be enforced by the Friend of the Court office.

However, in some settlements with joint physical custody, the court allows reasonable parenting time, which lets parents work out their time with the children as they go.

Specific parenting schedules

Specific schedules address all possible scenarios: typical days, summer break, holidays, etc.

If parents will live 180 miles apart or more, they have to use a specific long distance schedule. (In some counties, this requirement kicks in at 100 or 150 miles.) These schedules feature extended periods of parenting time, plus rules about children's travel.

Reasonable parenting time

When they're awarded reasonable parenting time, parents agree to a division of time (e.g., 60/40) but not a specific schedule. A court can only issue orders for reasonable parenting time when parents agree to it in a settlement.

Note that if parents with this reasonable parenting time can't agree when each should have the children, they will have to ask the court to modify their orders to include a specific schedule.

Popular specific parenting schedules

Parents can invent their own schedule or use one recommended by their county. Many families prefer to adapt popular parenting time schedules, like the ones below, to meet their family's needs.

The Custody X Change app helps you do this. You can adjust how much time children spend with each parent, insert third-party time to denote when children aren't with either parents, add holiday and school break schedules, etc.

Equal parenting time schedules (50/50)

When it's in the children's best interests, courts prefer 50/50 parenting time schedules, in which children spend time with each parent as equally as possible.

The alternating weeks schedule is a common 50/50 schedule. In it, the children spend seven days with one parent, then seven days with the other.

In the 2-2-5-5 schedule, parents each have one two-day visit, then one five-day visit.

Other schedules

When children live with one parent most of the time, that parent is called the custodial parent, and the other becomes the non-custodial parent. Typically, these terms apply to physical custody only; parents often still share joint legal custody.

Uneven schedules usually split time between parents 60/40, 70/30 or 80/20.

A common 60/40 arrangement is the every extended weekend schedule. Children spend every weekend (Friday afternoon to Monday morning) with the non-custodial parent.

A common 70/30 schedule in Michigan, the every weekend schedule, has children visit the non-custodial parent one evening per week, plus every other weekend.

In the alternating weekends schedule, children spend every other weekend with the non-custodial parent in an 80/20 division of parenting time.

Required information

If you'll use a specific schedule, write it in as much detail as possible. Legal experts recommend adding a visual calendar (and your court or judge may require this), but the written description must be thorough enough to stand alone. For example, define explicitly when visits start and end (e.g., from 3:00 p.m. Friday to 8:00 a.m. Monday).

In the rare case that your family will use reasonable parenting time in place of a specific schedule, state this instead.

Regardless of whether you use specific or reasonable time, calculate how many overnights a year the children will spend with each parent, and put these two numbers in your document. They must add up to 365 and are used to determine child support.

If being alone with the other parent would jeopardize your children's safety or emotional well-being, put a provision requiring supervised parenting time. Once the judge orders supervision, your children can only visit the other parent with a neutral third party present — and never overnight.

All parenting schedules must include a statement in which parents agree to support each other's relationships with the children and prioritize the children's best interests.

They must also specify whether parents will share joint legal custody or one parent will have sole legal custody. And they need provisions about custody exchanges (where exchanges will happen, who will transport the kids, what the kids should bring, what happens if a parent arrives late, etc).

Adding a parenting plan (recommended)

In addition to your parenting schedule, which all Michigan courts require, experts recommend creating a broader parenting plan to manage your legal custody arrangement.

A parenting plan is a separate document that includes further provisions to help you co-parent effectively, such as rules for child care and decision making.

Visualizing your schedule

If you're like most parents, a parenting time schedule makes little sense until you see it on a calendar.

Unfortunately, turning legal wording into day planner entries can be overwhelming. Let the Custody X Change app create a customizable calendar you can understand at a glance, all based on your written schedule.

A visual explanation of your schedule creates clarity when you negotiate with the other parent, when you present your proposal to a judge, and when it comes time to actually transfer your children back and forth.

You can also use your Custody X Change calendar before you have a written schedule; start by adding days and times to the calendar, then watch as the app generates a written description of your choices.

Take advantage of Custody X Change to ensure your written schedule and visual calendar meet legal requirements.

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting schedules and plans.

Make My Michigan Schedule Now

Custody X Change is software that creates customizable parenting schedules and plans.

Make My Schedule