How to deal with a habitually late parent at child custody exchanges
When children are involved in a divorce situation it often raises consternation between parties and the kids end up stuck in the middle of it all. In nearly every Michigan divorce case involving children, sole or joint custody is awarded. As their names imply, sole custody is one parent with custody and joint means shared custody and the children live with each parent in specific time increments. In shared custody situations, parents must make an array of decisions critical to their children’s wellbeing, including parenting time, also known as visitation.
Visitation schedules define when and where the children spend time with their parents. This time is typically ordered by a judge as “reasonable” parenting time or specific parenting time. In the former, the parents are charged with working out visiting times, dates, locations, and other factors. Parenting schedules are often influenced by the parent’s personal and work schedule, distance they live apart, and age of the children.
Court-Ordered Parenting Time
In some Michigan divorce cases, a judge may order specific parenting time with all details outlined in the court order. While it is always best if the parents can agree with each other in terms of a time schedule; many family courts will use a standard parenting schedule typically splitting visitation to every other week and/or weekend. Holidays are usually split 50-50. In some unfortunate cases where a parent has harmed the children or otherwise acted in poor behavior, a judge may order a third party to supervise parenting time.
Violations of Parenting Time
Even after a Michigan parenting time court order is in place, it is often just a matter of time before one parent or the other violates the order. One of the most common violations revolves around pick-up and drop-off times. Keep in mind that courts allow a certain amount of tolerance for expected unintentional violations of time orders; five minutes here and there will not raise the hackles of a judge. However, repeatedly being late for a child exchange is cause for concern, especially if late arrivals are intentional and/or bring additional cost or duress to the other parent.
If you are involved in this type of situation, remedies are available to ensure compliance going forward and possibly compensate the other parent for losses incurred. Repeated non-compliance can be addressed by the other party presenting a motion to modify the parenting time order. In extreme cases, the non-offending parent can ask the court to restrict the other parent’s time as long it is in the best interests of the child. The court may also award compensatory time or additional time to the deprived parent.
To help determine the best course of action, Michigan courts use factors related to a child’s best interests, a partial list of which follow:
- Any special needs of the child
- Nursing child
- Potential abuse or neglect during parenting time
- Impact of travel on the child during parenting time
For more information on managing child custody exchanges, contact The Gucciardo Law Firm today at (248) 723-5190.
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