Determining the Best Interests of the Child
MCL 722.27a(1) is the section of the Child Custody Act that specifically deals with parenting time, and provides as follows:
(1) Parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the best interests of the child. It is presumed to be in the best interests of the 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 frequency, duration and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time.
As is the case with custody, the Child Custody Act of 1970 governs parenting time, and just as with custody, the Court will attempt to determine what is in the best interests of the child when determining or awarding parenting time.
The law provides that a child has a right to parenting time with the child’s parents unless it is proven, by clear and convincing evidence, that parenting time with a particular parent would endanger the child’s physical, mental or emotional health.
Parenting Time Factors
The statute further sets forth additional factors that the Courts may consider in determining the frequency, duration and type of parenting time. Unlike the Best Interest of the Child factors, however, the factors outlined in MCL 722.27a(6) are not mandatory. Rather, they are discretionary for the Courts to consider if deemed appropriate under the circumstances.
The factors set forth in MCL 722.27a(6) are as follows:
(a) The existence of any special circumstances or needs of the child;
(b) Whether the child is a nursing child less than 6 months of age, or less than 1 year of age if the child receives substantial nutrition through nursing;
(c) The reasonable likelihood of abuse or neglect of the child during parenting time;
(d) The reasonable likelihood of abuse of a parent resulting from the exercise of parenting time;
(e) The inconvenience to, and burdensome impact or effect on, the child of traveling to and from the parenting time;
(f) Whether the visiting parent can reasonably be expected to exercise parenting time in accordance with the Court Order;
(g) Whether the visiting parent has frequently failed to exercise reasonable parenting time;
(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; and
(i) Any other relevant factors.