As a divorced parent, changes in your own life or that of your former spouse may have an impact on the parenting time schedule described in the final divorce decree. Whether your child lives with you or the other parent, modification of parenting time may be necessary to accommodate new circumstances. It may be tempting to adjust to a different parenting time schedule without obtaining a judge’s approval, but this approach is risky. You and the child’s other parent are violating the court’s order, and there may be legal consequences.
Fortunately, Michigan law allows you to modify parenting time, but the process can be complex. At Benson & Associates, we can assist you with making changes to the schedule and ensure that you remain in compliance with the law. Our attorneys have represented parents on both sides of the modification issue, whether you’re seeking modification or disputing it.
In the absence of an agreement to modify parenting time, it’s necessary to request court permission to do so. The paramount consideration in a modification is the same as the standard the court applied when issuing the original order on parenting time: The best interests of the child. Still, Michigan courts interpreting the law have determined that the 12 “best interests” factors provided by statute only apply when the modification would result in a change to the custodial arrangement.
A different standard applies when the modification of parenting time does not amount to a change in custody. The intent of parenting time is to foster a strong, healthy relationship between the child and his or her parents. Therefore, courts look at normal life change factors when determining whether to modify parenting time. For instance, as a child grows older and becomes involved with extracurricular activities – a normal life change – there may be sufficient reason to change the parenting time schedule.
Our attorneys will represent your interests in parenting time modification, no matter if the circumstances are normal life changes or more significant changes that require application of the child’s best interests standard. You can see that the law is complicated and there are subtleties in both the statute and case law. Only an experienced lawyer has the legal background to protect your interests.
When circumstances change and it’s time to make a modification of parenting time, you can’t risk making costly mistakes in the process. You have legal obligations under Michigan law, your child’s other parent has rights, and a judge must approve any significant alteration that impacts the child’s interests. At Benson & Associates, our goal is to help you reach a compromise when it comes to modifying parenting time, but we’re ready to take the battle to court if necessary. Our attorneys have served clients in Oakland, Wayne, Macomb Counties for seven decades, amassing comprehensive knowledge and experience in all areas of divorce law. If you’d like to discuss modification of parenting time with an attorney, please call our Southfield, MI office at 248-357-3550 or visit our website to schedule a consultation.
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