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Working Out Plans Under Michigan’s New Parenting Time Guidelines

Between work, school and extracurricular activities, it’s common for parents and children to have busy calendars. When family members don’t all live in the same household, parenting time must be scheduled to achieve a fair balance. The Michigan State Court Administrator’s Office recently published parenting time guidelines meant to assist parents with creating schedules that are best for them and their children. The manual provides useful guidance for parents negotiating parenting plans.

Parenting plans are not “one size fits all.” Every family is unique and each child has different needs. An effective plan should allow both parents the opportunity to spend quality time with their child and to be actively involved in their lives. It should include parenting time schedules as well as cover communication, transportation and other details.

When parents create a parenting time schedule, Michigan guidelines specify that the following factors should be considered:

  1. The child’s changing developmental needs — Younger children should have regular contact with each parent to develop healthy emotional bonds, while adolescents may need flexible schedules to account for multiple extracurricular activities. A parenting plan should take these differences into account.
  2. The distance between the parents’ homes — Long distances between the parents’ homes coupled with non-traditional work hours can make scheduling parenting time difficult. Parents may consider adjusting the schedule to allow extended time during school breaks. Other options include a parent visiting the child for a three-day weekend each month.
  3. Whether the child has special needs — Parenting plans should take into consideration whether the child has special physical, mental, emotional or educational needs. Parents should also consider how transitioning between homes will impact their child and whether each home is equipped as may be necessary.
  4. Extracurricular activities — Participation in after-school and weekend activities can benefit children academically, socially, emotionally and physically. A parenting plan should accommodate the schedule for these activities, including transportation to and from meetings and events.
  5. Safety concerns or domestic violence — If there have been instances of child abuse or domestic violence, the plan should be structured to protect the safety of the child and any adult who might be endangered.

Most of the parenting time guidelines in the new manual are meant for parents who can cooperate with each other. It’s best for parents to work out a parenting time plan without family court intervention whenever possible. However, if the parents cannot reach an agreement or if there are safety issues involved, a judge will decide on a time schedule based on what is in the best interests of the child.

Dawson Family Law, PLLC has extensive experience handling a full range of family law matters for clients throughout Michigan. Call 833-671-4445 or contact me online to schedule a consultation at my Sterling Heights office.

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