In many cases where the parents of a child are divorced or separated, the child, by court order, spends more time with one parent than the other. The court order might state that parent has primary physical custody or it may be referred to this arrangement as joint physical custody with one parent having more parenting time with the child. For the purposes of this bog, I will call the parent that has more time or control the custodial parent. Unfortunately, sometimes the custodial parent will either not allow the other parent her or his parenting time or will take steps to interfere with the other parent's time with the child. This is a very serious problem and it can result in the court ordering a change in the parenting time schedule, physical custody and/or legal custody.
How May Denial of Parenting Time Cause a Court in Michigan to Order a Change in Custody?
Michigan Statutes create a presumption that children should have a strong relationship with both parents. The court is required to consider a child's best interests when awarding or modifying custody. The "best interests" are really a statutorily created list of factors. One of the factors is “the willingness and ability of each of the parties to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing parent-child relationship between the child and the other parent or the child and the parents”. This means that interfering with or denying parenting time is directly contrary to the child's best interests in the eyes of the law.
A good (really bad) example is the recent case of Norwood v Norwood, an unpublished Michigan Court of Appeals case decided January 31, 2019. In that case, the mother initially had primary physical custody of the child and the father had parenting time. The parents lived a significant distance apart and the mother of the child on several occasions would simply not show up at the meeting spot with the child when father's parenting time was to start. The court held the mother in contempt three (3) times for this. The mother had no good excuse for why she was not present and denied the parenting time. The court also determined that the mother was purposefully scheduling activities for the child during the father's parenting time and was emotionally manipulating the child. As a result, the court found there was good cause to award the father sole legal and physical custody which the mother appealed and lost,
Working with Michigan Custody and Parenting Time Attorneys to Protect Your Rights
Child custody and parenting time issues are some of the most difficult that one may face and most parents faced with these problem do not know what to do about it or how to handle it. Some unfortunately just walk away because it becomes so impossible to work with the other parent. Working with Michigan custody attorneys can stop this from happening. The attorney will recognize certain patterns of behavior that tend to occur in these cases, then bring those in front of the judge in a concise form. Some classic examples of these patterns are denial of parenting time, denial of phone communication, refusal to share medical information or information about appointments, demands to be present during the other parent's time with the child and over scheduling of activities during the other parent's time with the child. The court in most instances will recognize these behavioral patterns and intervene in some manner. Working with a well versed family law attorney can help protect your legal rights and your relationship with your child. Contact custody attorney Cameron C. Goulding to schedule a consultation.