As long as the court determines that it's in the child's best interests, it will ensure that a child has visitation -- or "parenting time" in Michigan -- with both the custodial and non-custodial parents. Although Michigan provides model guidelines for determining visitation schedules and terms, not all counties have adopted them and some may have their own variation (Alpena County, for example).
This article is intended to give you a general overview of how Michigan determines parenting (and grandparenting) time, common terms and conditions, and other important details.
Michigan Parenting Time and Visitation Laws: The Basics
All you want to do is have more time to visit with your child, which means you probably aren't interested in translating dense legal texts. But it's important to understand your rights and obligations with respect to parenting time in Michigan, so we've provided the following "plain English" summary of the relevant laws to help you.
Michigan Compiled Laws Section 722.27a, et seq. (part of the Child Custody Act of 1970)
Michigan Parenting Time: Model Guidelines
Not all counties in Michigan have adopted the state's model guidelines for parenting time (listed below), so check with your county for specifics:
Alternating Weekends - From 6:00 p.m. Friday evening until 6:00 p.m. Sunday evening.
Weekdays - One evening per week from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on a day to be determined by the parties (Wednesday if parties can't agree).
For the following holidays, the father has parenting time in odd numbered years and the mother has parenting time in even numbered years:
- Memorial Day weekend, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on that Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Memorial Day.
- Labor Day weekend, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on that Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Labor Day.
For the following holidays, the father has parenting time in even numbered years and the mother has parenting time in odd numbered years:
- Fourth of July, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 3rd and ending at 9:00 a.m. on July 5th.
- Thanksgiving weekend, beginning at 6:00 p.m. that Wednesday and ending at 6:00 p.m. the Sunday evening following Thanksgiving.
Spring, Summer, and Winter Break
- Spring Break - Father has parenting time in even numbered years (mother in odd numbered years), from 6:00 p.m. the last day of school before break until 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes.
- Winter Break - Father has parenting time in odd numbered years (mother in even numbered years), from 6:00 p.m. the last day of school before break until 9:00 p.m. December 24th and mother has parenting time from 9:00 p.m. (12/24) until the day before school resumes; schedule is reversed in even numbered years.
- Summer Break - Non-custodial parent has parenting time beginning the first Friday after July 4th at 6:00 p.m. and continuing for 4 weeks until the fourth Friday at 6:00 p.m.; during this period, custodial parent has weekend parenting time beginning on the second Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
Mother's Day and Father's Day - Child shall be with the mother for the entire weekend of Mother's Day and with the father for the entire weekend of Father's Day, from 6:00 p.m. Friday until 6:00 p.m. Sunday.
Telephone Contact - Whenin the care of one parent, a child shall have the right to contact the other parent by telephone or internet (frequency of calls established on case-by-case basis, but at least once a week for school-age children); if child is residing at a different than usual location, the other parent shall be informed of the address and an alternate telephone number (if applicable).
Other Parenting Time Options - Other options may include the child's birthday and the option for one of the parents to be the first choice as a child care provider when needed.
Note: Although these guidelines specifically indicate "father" and "mother," same-sex parents also have parenting time rights under Michigan's equitable parent doctrine (but cases may vary depending on the circumstances).
Common Terms and Conditions of Parenting Time
The following specific terms and conditions of parenting time may be included in the court order if requested by either party:
- Division of responsibility to transport child;
- Division of cost of transporting child;
- Restrictions on the presence of third parties during parenting time;
- Requirements that the child be ready for parenting time by a specific time;
- Requirements that the parent arrive for parenting time and return the child at specific times;
- Requirements that parenting time occur in the presence of a third person or agency;
- Requirements that a party post a bond to assure compliance with parenting time order;
- Requirements of reasonable notice when parenting time will not occur; and
- Any other reasonable condition determined to be appropriate.
Factors Considered When Determining Parenting Time (Visitation) in Michigan
In order to determine the length, frequency, and type of parenting time, the court considers the following factors:
- Any special needs of the child;
- Whether the child is less than 6 months old and nursing, or less than 1 year old and receiving substantial nutrition from nursing;
- Reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time;
- Reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from parenting time;
- Inconvenience to, and burden on, the child as a result of traveling from one parent to the other;
- Whether a parent can reasonably be expected to comply with parenting time in accordance with the court order;
- Whether the parent has, in the past, frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time;
- Threatened or actual detention of the child with intent to keep or conceal the child from the custodial parent; and
- Any other relevant factors.
Child's grandparent may seek a grandparenting time order under one of the following circumstances:
- There is an action for divorce, separation, or annulment before the court;
- Child's parents are divorced, separated, or have had their marriage annulled;
- Child's parent who is a child of the grandparents is deceased;
- Child's parents have never been married, are not in the same household, and paternity has been established;
- Legal custody of the child has been given to someone other than the parent; or
- In year preceding action seeking a grandparenting time order, the grandparent provided an established custodial environment for the child.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Research the Law
Michigan Parenting Time and Visitation Rights: Related Resources
Have Questions About Your Visitation Rights? A Michigan Attorney Can Help
Spending time with both parents is usually in the best interests of your child, assuming there aren't any concerns such as child abuse. If you need help asserting your right to visit your child, you may need teh assistance of an experienced professional. Find a qualified Michigan child custody attorney near you to learn more.