There are few questions about getting a divorce that are more emotional than, "What will happen with my time with my children?" Although your marriage did not work out the way you'd hoped, you still want to be in your children's lives as much as possible, and make the transition for them as smooth as possible.
The good news is that Michigan child custody laws recognize grandparent visitation and offer the option of joint custody between parents. After you establish legal and physical custody, you wonder how different scenarios will impact time with your children. Parenting time is the time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. Your Michigan court order will outline who has custody, and who has parenting time. Here are four scenarios of disputes around parenting time, and tips on what you should do if you are facing them.
1) The other parent is not obeying the parenting time order
If the other parent is not allowing you your court-ordered parenting time, you can contact the Friend of the Court and request that they enforce the parenting time order. Enforcement usually begins after you submit a written complaint. You can also work with your attorney to ask the court to enforce the parenting time order.
2) You have custody, but the other parent is not paying child support
If the court requires child support payments, but the parent who has parenting time is not paying, the parent still has the right to parenting time. You should continue to allow parenting time as ordered by the court.
3) The parent who has parenting time refuses to see the child
The court cannot force a parent to see the child. Options to consider in this situation to provide a healthier relationship for the child include seeing a psychologist for counseling, going through mediation to come up with a solution or filing a motion to modify the parenting time order.
4) The parent who has parenting time refuses to return the child
In the parenting time order, there may be specific times listed when the parent who has parenting time can be with the child, and when they must return the child to the custodial parent. Unfortunately, some parents do not obey the court's orders, for a variety of reasons, and may want to keep the children after their parenting time has expired for the day. If you are the custodial parent, and the other parent refuses to return your child, you have a couple options. You can contact the police, or the prosecuting attorney. Ask to file a parental kidnapping charge.
Although many of these scenarios can be unpleasant or stressful if they come up, a family law attorney experienced in child custody law can help you get the time you deserve with your children when you are filing for a divorce. A family law attorney can also help modify child custody or parenting time arrangements if they don't seem to be working out. It is never too late to seek out solutions to make your time with your children the best it can be.