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Parenting time orders should be based on the child's needs

When parents divorce in Michigan, they will usually have to deal with the Friend of the Court for child custody issues. These parents should become familiar with the Parenting Time Guideline, which is used as the basis for child custody decisions.

One important component of the Parenting Time Guideline is the definition of parenting time. This guideline presumes that it is in the child's best interest to have contact with both parents. In order to accomplish a meaningful relationship with each parent, the child needs to have ample opportunity to spend time with each parent.

The guideline does provide for the court to bypass this desire to have contact with both parents if it isn't in the child's best interests to see one parent. In cases that involve emotional, physical or mental dangers to the child, the court can state on the record that the evidence showing those was clear and convincing. From there, parenting time can be denied.

Generally, parenting time in Michigan leans toward a flexible schedule that lets the parents be parents instead of simply having a schedule of times when each parent is responsible for child care. This isn't possible in every case, so parenting plans must be customized to take the child's needs into consideration.

Ultimately, the parenting plan should provide the child with the stability that he or she needs to thrive. The plan can change as the child grows to reflect the current needs. For example, a nursing baby needs more time with his or her mother, but more time can be given to the father when the baby stops nursing.

Parenting time orders should stop issues before they occur by providing instruction for areas of contention that might come up. Ensuring that your parenting time agreement does this is crucial so that you can parent your child without having to fight about the terms on a regular basis.

Source: Michigan Court Administrative Office, "Michigan Parenting Time Guideline," accessed Sep. 14, 2016

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