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Joint Parenting Agreements

Michigan Family Law Attorney Helping Clients to Develop Parenting Plans

Dealing with issues of child custody and parenting time can be complicated, especially when the parents cannot come to an agreement about how to share time with their children in a way that serves the best interests of the child. Generally speaking, Michigan courts want to give parents the option to develop parenting time agreements on their own and to play a role in deciding what types of custody arrangements are likely to be best for their children. In many instances, however, parents are unable to agree to terms. When parents cannot agree, the court will enter orders for child custody and for parenting time.

When parents talk about joint parenting agreements, they are usually thinking about two different kinds of parenting plans: parenting time agreements and joint custody agreements. What is involved in each of these? A Michigan child custody lawyer can answer your questions.

When Parents Share Joint Legal and/or Physical Custody of the Child

In general, there are two types of child custody in Michigan under the Child Custody Act:

  • Legal custody (making significant decisions about the child’s upbringing and well-being); and
  • Physical custody (providing for the immediate care and well-being of the child).

There are four different ways the court can assign child custody:

  • Joint legal and joint physical custody (parents share both legal and physical custody);
  • Joint legal and sole physical custody (parents share legal custody but only one parent has physical custody);
  • Sole legal and joint physical custody (only one parent has legal custody but parents share physical custody); and
  • Sole legal and physical custody (only one parent has both legal and physical custody).

When parents can agree to joint custody (legal and/or physical), or when a court assigns joint custody to the parents, then the family will also need a parenting plan.

Developing a Parenting Plan in Michigan

When parents share joint custody of their children, they will typically need to develop a parenting plan that addresses issues of parenting time. This parenting time order, or parenting plan, should detail the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time. If the parents cannot agree to a parenting plan on their own (without the court), the court will step in and grant parenting time in a manner that is in the best interests of the child. Under MCL 722.27a, parenting time orders should include one or more of the following:

  • Division of the responsibility to transport the child;
  • Division of the cost of transporting the child;
  • Restrictions on the presence of third persons during parenting time;
  • Requirements that the child be ready for parenting time at a specific time;
  • Requirements that the parent arrive for parenting time and return the child from parenting time at specific times;
  • Requirements that parenting time occur in the presence of a third person or agency;
  • Requirements that a party post bond to assure compliance with a parenting time order;
  • Requirements of reasonable notice when parenting time will not occur; and
  • Any other reasonable condition determined to be appropriate in the particular case.

Contact a Michigan Family Law Attorney

Joint parenting agreement can be tricky, especially when the parents cannot come to an agreement or have an acrimonious relationship with one another. An experienced Michigan family law attorney can help. Contact the law office of Paul J. Tafelski for more information.

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