These general guidelines apply when the Court gives the non-custodial parent rights of reasonable and liberal parenting time with the minor child(ren) of the parties. In the event that a Parenting Time Order is, or becomes inconsistent, with a Personal Protection Order or the conditions of a bond between these same parties, in such case, the Personal Protection Order or the conditions of the bond shall take precedence over the terms of this Order. See MCR 3.706(C)(3).
This Guideline for reasonable and liberal Parenting Time is a starting point which the Court uses to determine the Parenting Time which is in the best interests of the minor child(ren) of the parties. The Parenting Time which is ultimately Ordered by the Court will be based on the facts and circumstances of each case. Parties are always able to negotiate and consent to different Parenting Time Terms which are in the best interests of the minor child(ren), for example special days such as Halloween, birthdays, etc.
Minimum Parenting Time:
The parties are encouraged to work with each other to allow the minor child to spend as much time with both parents, as is appropriate. The Parties should work with each other, in the event of conflicts with their Parenting Time Order, or special events, which may require that alternate parenting time arrangements be made between the parties. In the event that a cancellation of the scheduled Parenting Time is required, notice of at least 24 hours should be provided to the other party. Alternate Parenting time should be scheduled promptly between the parties in the event of conflicts. The parties should work together for the purpose of taking into account the reasonable activities which the minor child is involved in and its impact on the Court Ordered Parenting Time.
The parents should cooperate with respect to a child to advance a child’s health, emotional, and physical well-being and to give and afford a child the affection of both parents and a sense of security. Neither parent should, directly or indirectly, influence a child so as to prejudice a child against the other parent. The parties should cooperate with each other in carrying out the provisions of their Order for a child’s best interests. Whenever it seems necessary to adjust, vary or increase the time allotted to either party, or otherwise take action regarding a child, each of the parties should act in the best interests of the child. Neither party should do anything which may estrange the other from the child, injure the child’s opinion of the other party, or otherwise hamper the free and natural development of the child for the other party.
The parties should cooperate with each other when enrolling the child(ren) in extracurricular activities to ensure that the activities do not interfere with the ability of the child(ren) to exercise parenting time with either parent. Parents should keep each other apprised of the activities of the minor child(ren), so as to allow each other to attend or participate in the activity, and to plan for flexibility in parenting time arrangements.
Presence of other third parties:
The requirement of the presence of third parties for supervision purposes, or the exclusion of third parties during periods of parenting time with the minor child(ren), are addressed by the Court on a case by case basis upon proper petition filed by either party.
Parenting Time Guidelines for Minor Child(ren) over 3 years of age:
1. Alternate Weekends: Are generally defined as being from Friday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m.
2. Alternate Holidays:* Are generally defined as beginning from 10:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day of the Holiday. Holiday parenting time shall take precedence over other regular parenting time. The Court recognized Holidays are:
New Year’s Day Thanksgiving Day
Easter Sunday Christmas Eve Day
Memorial Day Christmas Day
4th of July Day New Year’s Eve Day
A) In even numbered years, the parent designated #1 would have the following recognized Holidays: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas Eve Day, and New Years Eve Day. The parent designated #2 would have the remaining recognized Holidays which consist of: Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Holiday parenting time shall take precedence over other regular parenting time. In the event that a Monday Holiday is preceded by the non-custodial parent’s normal weekend Parenting Time, then the weekend shall continue through the Monday Holiday and conclude at the normal weekend time.
B) In odd numbered years, the parent designated #2 shall have the following recognized Holidays: New Years Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Christmas Eve Day, and New Years Eve Day. The parent designated #1 shall have the remaining recognized Holidays which consist of: Easter Sunday, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Holiday parenting time shall take precedence over other regular parenting time. In the event that a Monday Holiday is preceded by the non-custodial parent’s normal weekend Parenting Time, then the weekend shall continue through the Monday Holiday and conclude at the normal weekend time.
* Holidays such as Birthdays and Halloween are not recognized by the Court as Holidays for parenting time purposes, absent the agreement of the parties.
3. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day: The Mother shall always have parenting time on Mothers Day and the Father shall always have parenting time on Fathers Day, notwithstanding the weekend schedule or the Summer Parenting Time Schedule. The Parenting Time shall commence at 10:00 a.m. and end at 6:00 p.m. on these Holidays.
4. Extended summer vacation: Generally consists of: up to four non-consecutive one week periods, longer periods shall be permitted for older children upon the agreement of the parties. The non-custodial parent may not tack on extended summer time periods on to normal weekend parenting time, without consideration given to the custodial parent’s weekend schedule. The non-custodial parent shall give the custodial parent written notice (with a copy to the Friend of the Court) of the requested summer parenting time by April 1st of each year. The non-custodial parent shall have preference for their choice of summer parenting times, provided that the aforesaid notice is timely given to the custodial parent. The custodial parent shall have two non-consecutive one week periods of uninterrupted time with the minor child(ren) and shall provide notice to the non-custodial parent by April 15th of each year (with a copy to the Friend of the Court). In the event that the non-custodial parent takes summer parenting time in blocks of more than 14 days, the custodial parent shall have reciprocal parenting time rights during those periods.
5. Mid-week Parenting Time: Up to two additional dinner time visits during the week may be Ordered, generally from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., on mutually convenient evenings for the parties.
6. Transportation: The Parenting Time is for the benefit of the minor child(ren) and the parents should share transportation equally. It is customary for the non-custodial parent to pick the child(ren) up at the start of the parenting time period and for the custodial parent to pick the child(ren) up at the conclusion of the parenting time period, excepting midweek parenting time periods. In situations, where the distance between the parties is more than 100 miles a midpoint exchange may be selected by the parties. Where the distance between the parties is greater and air travel is required, the parties would share in the cost of the plane ticket.
7. Phone numbers and addresses: Each Parent should provide the phone numbers and addresses as to where the minor child(ren) shall be during overnight parenting time periods with each parent.
8. Mid-year vacation periods: The Parents where appropriate, should equally share or alternate the school year vacation periods, consisting of the Christmas vacation period, the mid-winter break and the Easter/Spring vacation period.
9. Telephone Parenting Time: Each parent should have telephone parenting time with the minor child(ren), when the child(ren) are with the other party at reasonable times. The frequency of contact should be established on a case by case basis. In the event that the child(ren) are unavailable, the Parent receiving the call should initiate a return call to the other parent within 24 hours. Each party shall provide a working phone number to the other party for the purpose facilitating telephone parenting time. The minor child(ren) should be given reasonable privacy during telephone parenting time with the other parent.
10. Exchanges of Minor Child(ren): The exchange of the minor child(ren) shall take place promptly at the times specified in the Court Order. A one-half hour grace period (30 minutes) should be given to allow for inclement weather and/or traffic problems. The parties are encouraged to use cell phones in the event of a delay in meeting for the Parenting Time exchange.
Parenting Time Guidelines for Minor Child(ren) under 3 years of Age:
Ages 0 to 6 months:
Frequent visits (up to three) throughout the week should be permitted, for short periods of time. This is more tolerable and beneficial for the infant, and doesn’t disrupt their routine. Recommended amount of time is 1 to 4 hours to begin, and once established (parents are working well together), then one of the visits can be for up to 8 hours. Parents working together mean they are sharing information about feeding, diapering, and napping routines, and are able to discuss the child’s routine and preferences, and send familiar objects with the infant (blanket, toy, etc.).
Ages 7 to 18 months:
Frequent visits (up to three) throughout the week are recommended, for short periods of time. The goal is to build up relationships between the toddler and visiting parent. Up to 12 14 months, these visits should be a half-day in length; after 12 months, visits can be extended to a full day (8 hours), possibly both weekend days, with the child sleeping in their own bed at night in between. Parents need to spend time sharing information about the child’s routines and interaction patterns. If there is a high degree of familiarity in both homes, longer visits or extended times may be tolerated by the toddler. It is not recommended that overnights occur due to the stress created by such a separation from the primary caregiver and the risk to disturbing the child’s routines.
Ages 19 to 36 months:
Frequent visits (1 to 3) throughout the week, consisting of up to eight hours of time are recommended. If there is no relationship established, shorter visits are helpful to help the transition. If the relationship is established, overnights may be tolerable for this age if the parents are coordinating the support of these visits: taking blankets/stuffed animals, talking about coming and going, taking a picture of the absent parent, discussing the child’s behaviors and routines (eating/sleeping habits). Two weeks in between overnights are also recommended.
In all the three young age groups listed above, extended time (e.g. a week or more) away from the primary care giver is not recommended. This is a level of separation which research has shown to cause distress for the child because the child has not yet developed the concept of object constancy, (knowing Mom/Dad will be there when they are separated), and need visual (seeing Mom or Dad) reassurances.