Michigan Custody and Visitation Schedules
You can create your own custody and visitation schedule (on your own or with the other parent) or you can work with an attorney or legal professional and have them create it. If you don't want to pay the high cost of an attorney, and want to easily make your own schedule, you can use the Custody X Change software.
Custody X Change is software that creates custody schedules, calendars, and professional parenting plan documents.
A child visitation schedule, also referred to in the State of Michigan as a "parenting time schedule", is a key component of the "Parenting Time Order", which is the binding document the court will rule on in a family dissolution process.
The child visitation schedule defines the times the child will spend with each parent.
When creating a child visitation schedule in the State of Michigan, it is helpful to be familiar with the laws and guidelines of the State as they will help you create a child visitation schedule that complies with the law and should be more readily approved by the court.
The Michigan Compiled Statutes contains the laws pertaining to child custody and visitation. The State also uses a document called the Michigan Parenting Time Guideline as a guide and reference in family law cases.
The Michigan Parent Time Guideline was created by a court sanctioned committee, tasked by the court to create a guide the court could reference when making decisions regarding child custody. It incorporates the recommendations of qualified professionals with the laws of the state.
The best interest of a child is the main concern of the courts in the State of Michigan.
Michigan considers a child having both parents involved in the child's life to be in the child's best interests, provided there are no extenuating circumstances, such as clear and convincing evidence that a parent poses a danger to the child (MCL 722.27a).
Your child has a right to bond with, and be nurtured and cared for by both parents. Shared custody, when feasible and appropriate, is encouraged by the courts.
Some of the factors the court considers when ruling on custody matters include:
- The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child
- 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
- The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during a parent's time
- The inconvenience to or burdensome impact on the child of traveling for purposes of parenting time
- Whether a parent can be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the court order or if a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time
These are just a few things to think about that can impact how you schedule custody and visitation.
A successful and compliant child visitation schedule is comprised of three basic components:
- A regular residential schedule that will define the days and times the child will live with and spend time with each parent. The regular residential schedule should reflect consistency and allow the child an appropriate amount of quality time with each parent on a frequent, ongoing basis.
- A holiday schedule that dictates the dates and times of all holidays and other special days, and how these days will be divided between the parents. The holiday schedule should be written in a manner that allows the child equitable time with both parents on holidays. Many parents simply opt to take turns having the child on holidays throughout the year and then alternate the holidays every year. Any special days may be included. You may include the child's birthday, the parents' birthdays, Mother's Day, Father's Day, and any other days of importance. The holiday schedule takes precedence over the regular schedule.
- A vacation schedule that will allot the child extended time with each parent on school breaks and also the parents' personal vacation times. It is often difficult to pinpoint the exact dates of vacation time in advance, so you may include provisions in the child visitation schedule that outline the process in which to schedule vacation time. Procedures for advanced notice, out of area travel, and contact with the other parent during the vacation time can be included.
- Any stipulations or provisions that will make it easier to comply with the schedule.
Your schedule can also have extra terms and conditions that facilitate the orderly exercise of the schedule. Some of the reasonable terms and conditions that the law suggests are found in Section 727.27a, Part 8. These include:
- The division of the responsibility to transport the child
- The division of the cost of transporting the child
- The restrictions on the presence of third persons during parenting time
- Requirements that the child be ready for parenting time at a specific time
- Requirements that the parent shall pick up and return the child at specific times
- Requirements for supervised parenting time
- A process for changing parenting time or giving notice when parenting time will not occur
- Any other reasonable condition that is appropriate to a particular case
These individual rules and guidelines that you can include with your schedule can really help your schedule work better. Thinking about all of these things beforehand allows both parents to know exactly what to expect and they lessen the disputes and confusion that can come up with parenting time.
Try to think about areas where you and the other parent have misunderstandings, and think of a provision or stipulation you can include that will help with that misunderstanding.
A good way to make sure you are on the right track is to always keep the needs of your child in mind as you create your schedule.
As long as the needs of the child are being met in a healthy, positive manner, you may be as creative with your child visitation schedule as you would like.
The Michigan Parent Time Guideline contains some suggested parenting time schedules, including the old "every other weekend" standard, but the Guideline is just that: a guide. Deviations from the Guideline are acceptable to the court.
In fact, the preferred method of the court when creating a child visitation schedule is for the parents to mutually agree and present a schedule they created together.
Evaluating each of your schedules, as well as your child's schedule, and creating the child visitation schedule in accordance to the availability of all parties is a good starting point.
Your child visitation schedule can be as unique as your child is. When you can set your differences aside, cooperate, and work together for the sake of your child, the results are far more beneficial to the child than what a court, (presided over by a judge that doesn't know your child), could hand down.
The top twenty cities in Michigan (by population, US Census Bureau, 2008) are: Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, Clinton, Livonia, Dearborn, Canton, Troy, Westland, Farmington Hills, Southfield, Kalamazoo, Shelby, Waterford, Wyoming, Rochester Hills.