The Corona Virus has caused an enormous amount of disruption with all aspects of life in Michigan. This includes limited access to the legal system, however courts are still allowing attorneys to file motions and are authorized to hear motions for essential functions and as necessary to maintain daily life. This time of year with spring break coming up, many parents have questions about whether they are required to put the kids on a plane for court ordered parenting time with a noncustodial parent that lives in another state or whether they should do so to return the child to a custodial parent in another state after parenting time here in Michigan.
Today I was on a zoom conference with a panel of judges, friend of the court referees and family law attorneys discussing this very issue. Unfortunately this situation is new for everyone involved but there did appear to be a consensus. In most cases, you must follow the parenting time order regardless of this situation. However, if a child must be put on a plane to engage in the parenting time and the other parent does not agree to forgo immediate parenting time for make-up parenting time when this has ended, then you should contact a family law attorney immediately.
An Oakland County Friend of the Court referee stated that a noncustodial father refused to put his child on a plane to return to Florida. He filed an emergency motion and the judge ordered that the father could keep the child in Michigan and parenting time for the mother could take place in Michigan if the mother wanted to come up here. Otherwise, she would have make-up parenting time later. There seemed to be a consensus that this was the reasonable action to take. There was a suggestion that in cases where it is possible, such as where the other parent lives in New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc., the parents could pick a half-way point, drive and exchange the children there.
I will continue to update this blog as often as possible to keep parents aware of how to handle these issues while this situation is developing. My office is open to schedule conference calls and if requested, facetime meetings. We are working on getting zoom as well but as of yet, most clients have found that a telephone conference sufficient. While the court is essentially in lock down, there are procedures for filing motions and the court will hear certain motions on a case by case basis. If you have questions regarding custody or parenting time in Michigan, contact our Michigan parenting time attorney. We are here to help you in these extremely difficult times.