Paternal Visitation & Custody Rights in Michigan

By Anna Assad

A Michigan father has custodial and visitation rights as awarded by the court. State law doesn't use gender as a factor in deciding custody of a child and a parent's visitation rights. Custody and visitation are awarded based on various factors, including what the court decides is best for the child. Once the court awards parenting time and custody, each parent must follow the court's orders and not interfere with the other parent's rights.

Custodial Parent

Parents in Michigan may be awarded different types of custody. Physical custody determines with whom the child lives most of the time, while legal custody recognizes a parent's parental rights. A parent with legal custody has the right to participate in and make major decisions for his child. The court may split these two forms of custody between both parents or award custody to one parent. A father with sole physical custody has the right to have the child live with him at all times, whereas a father with sole legal custody may make decisions for his child without the consent of the other parent. If a father has joint physical custody, the child lives at the homes of both parents. Living schedules vary; for example, the child may live with one parent during school and the other parent over the summer, or she may alternate homes every other week. A father who shares legal custody with the mother can't make major decisions for the child alone; both parents have the right to make the decisions for the child.

Noncustodial Parent

A father who doesn't have any legal or physical custody of his child in Michigan still has the right to see his child unless his parental rights have been terminated. A court may terminate parental rights—a parent's legal right to participate in the life of his child—in cases where a parent has abused the child or is deemed unfit. Only a court may remove a parent's right to his child in Michigan.

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Parenting Time

"Parenting time" in Michigan -- also referred to as "visitation" in other states -- is the time a parent gets with his child. Although parents may deviate from court-ordered parenting-time schedules, a noncustodial father has a right to the parenting time awarded by the court. Michigan courts take various factors under consideration when deciding on parenting time, including the needs of the child, the safety of the environment and whether the father will adhere to the schedule. For example, a father who refuses to return the child to the custodial parent at the end of the scheduled parenting time may lose some of his parenting time. Parenting-time schedules vary. The court may award a less restrictive schedule to accommodate parents who are able to work together. If the parents can't work together, the court may include restrictions or very specific details in the parenting-time order. For example, the court may order a custodial parent have a child ready for visits with his father at a specific time, as lateness cuts into the father's time with his child.

Enforcement

Each of Michigan's family courts have a person, referred to as a "friend of the court," who acts for a family court judge. If a parent fails to honor court-ordered parenting time or custody, the other parent contacts the friend of the court for help. For example, a father who is denied his parenting time by the child's mother can ask the friend of the court for help with enforcement of the parenting time order. The friend of the court will try to settle the problem through discussions or mediation meetings with both parents first. If that doesn't work, the friend of the court may petition the court to modify the order or require that the parents enter mediation. A parent who continues to violate a custody or parenting time order may be found in contempt of court. A first contempt of court conviction can land the uncooperative parent in jail for a maximum of 45 days and result in her license suspension. She may have to pay a maximum fine of $100.

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What Happens if You Disobey a Court Child Custody Order?

References

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Kentucky Child Vistitation Laws

Although divorced parents in Kentucky often share legal custody of their children, they don't typically share physical custody. For the parent without physical custody, a visitation schedule protects that parent's right to spend time with the child. Parents should know the Kentucky laws regarding custody rights and related legal issues, such as child support or grandparent visitation.

Georgia Custody Statutes for Denial of Visitation

Georgia law recognizes the important bond between a child and his parents, even when those parents don’t live together. Georgia provides laws specific to child custody and visitation in the Official Code of Georgia, Title 19, Chapter 9. These laws direct the courts when determining who has custody and visitation of a child and who may be denied visitation.

New York State Supervised Visitation Laws

Supervised visits in New York are ordered by a county Family Court or Supreme Court when a visit with a non-custodial parent -- the parent who doesn't have custody -- could be physically or psychologically dangerous for the child. The number of requests for supervised visits has risen greatly in recent years, as more and more cases of domestic violence, child abuse and neglect flood the court system. If you worry that your child is at risk during visits with his non-custodial parent, you can petition the court for an order of custody and visitation. The court has the authority to order supervised visitation if it approves the petition.

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