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Grand Rapids Visitation Lawyer

If you are preparing to go through a separation or divorce with children, one of the most important aspects of your separation or divorce will involve establishing child custody and visitation. There is a wide range of options when it comes to visitation schedules: some parents agree to equally share parenting time; in other situations, very limited supervised visits are best for the children. At Kraayeveld Law, a Grand Rapids child visitation lawyer can advise you what to expect regarding visitation and advocate for you in court to get the best visitation schedule possible for your child.

In Michigan, visitation is most commonly referred to as “parenting time.” At Kraayeveld Law, we work closely with our clients to make sure that their parenting time schedules meet their needs while also serving their children’s best interests. We also fight vigorously for our clients in circumstances in which they need to oppose their spouses’ requests for parenting time, and we have extensive experience in matters involving parenting time modifications and enforcement of parenting time rights, as well.

What Is Parenting Time in Michigan?

Similar to child custody, all decisions regarding parenting time must be made in the best interests of the children involved. Michigan’s parenting time law states:

“It is presumed to be in the best interests of a child for the child to have a strong relationship with both of his or her parents. Except as otherwise provided in this section, parenting time shall be granted to a parent in a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time. . . . A child has a right to parenting time with a parent unless it is shown on the record by clear and convincing evidence that it would endanger the child’s physical, mental, or emotional health.”

As with child custody and all other matters involved in getting divorced or separated, parents who are willing to work together can agree to a parenting time schedule that works well with their schedule and is best for their children.  Judges usually will approve parents’ agreed-upon custody and parenting time schedules if the order is well-drafted pursuant to Michigan law.  A Grand Rapids child visitation lawyer can assist you through this court process.

Establishing a Parenting Time Schedule During Your Divorce

When we represent parents with minor children, we emphasize structuring parenting time schedules that are easy to follow and easy to enforce. As child visitation lawyers, we want you to be able to spend as much time with your children as you desire. But, we also want to make sure that you are protected, and that you will be able to enforce your rights if the other parent violates the terms of your order. As a result, while we work with our clients to structure mutually agreeable parenting time schedules through private negotiations or mediation whenever possible, we also let our clients know when it is in their (and their children’s) long-term best interests to pursue a more favorable resolution in court. Because we have very extensive trial experience, we are in a position to advise our clients if their requests are feasible, and if so, then we either obtain those requests through settlement or by proceeding to trial.

What the Court Will Consider 

When the judge is required to determine your parenting time schedule, a hearing will be scheduled. During the hearing, you, the other parent, and other witnesses will provide the judge with testimony and evidence.   The judge will decide your parenting time schedule based on 12 child custody best interest factors and the following parenting time factors:

  • Factor (a): Any special needs of the child;

  • Factor (b): Whether the child is nursing;

  • Factor (c): Whether abuse or neglect of a child during parenting time is likely;

  • Factor (d): Whether abuse of a parent during parenting time is likely;

  • Factor (e): The inconvenience and impact on the child of traveling for parenting time;

  • Factor (f): Whether a parent is reasonably likely to exercise parenting time;

  • Factor (g): Whether a parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time;

  • Factor (h): The threatened or actual detention of the child with the intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent or from a third person who has legal custody. A custodial parent’s temporary residence with the child in a domestic violence shelter shall not be construed as evidence of the custodial parent’s intent to retain or conceal the child from the other parent;

  • Factor (i): Any other relevant factors.

Modifying or Enforcing Parenting Time in Michigan

If you have gone through a divorce or separation and are now in a situation where you need to modify or enforce your visitation schedule, our child visitation attorneys can help you with this as well. Michigan has strict rules and procedures for parenting time modification and enforcement, and we can use our extensive experience in modification and enforcement proceedings to help you preserve and protect your parental rights.

Advice from a Grand Rapids Child Visitation Lawyer

If you are faced with a parenting time dispute or other visitation matter, there are a few things to keep in mind to prepare for your case:

  • Spend time with your children. If you have a court order, exercise all available time. If you do not have a court order in place yet, still ask to see your children, and document your requests.
  • When you have parenting time with your children, actually spend the time with your children. Put away your phone, work, and be interested in their life.
  • When you are not scheduled to have parenting time, you still may volunteer at the children’s school and attend their extracurricular activities.
  • Do not involve your children in any dispute. They cannot relay messages for you; and they should not be aware of your disputes. You probably own a cell phone; text the other parent.
  • Preserve and document your evidence. If you reach an agreement, do so via text. Snap a photo of documents, clothing conditions, etc. Again, do not involve your children.
  • Respect your children’s and other parent’s time. Do not call and text your children incessantly while they are with the other parent.
  • Comply with court orders. If you are ordered to take parenting classes, counseling, or take another action, do so regardless of how beneficial you think it is.

Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Grand Rapids Child Visitation Lawyer

If you are preparing to go through a divorce with children or need to modify or enforce your existing parenting time order, please contact us to schedule a confidential initial consultation. To speak with a Grand Rapids child visitation lawyer at Kraayeveld Law, call 616-285-0808 or request an appointment online today.