In Macomb County and many other places in Michigan, what is referred to as visitation or custody is really just called parenting time. Parenting time is the schedule that you and the other parent are going to follow now that you are separated. The Court relies very heavily on parents to create a schedule that they can both agree on. If they can’t make one on their own, the court will make the decision for you. It’s almost always best to try to work with the other parent to make that schedule on your own so that you have the most amount of input possible. You and the other parent undoubtledly are in the best position to decide how to raise your children. Here are our suggestions for creating the schedule:
Put yourself in your children’s shoes – For just a moment, pretend you aren’t the parent and that you are the person who is actually going to have to live this schedule. Would you want to have to spend the night at a different house every night of the week? Would you want to have to go 7 days without seeing your other parent? Many parents unfortunately only think about what is convenient to them and what will upset the other party the most. Forget about your anger towards the other parent and think about what your children are going to be most comfortable with.
Carefully consider where you are going to live – Practically speaking if the other parent lives in Romeo and you move to New Baltimore it’s going to be extremely difficult to exercise a lot of parenting time during the week. Your children are in school and putting them in the car for 45 minutes to get to and from school is probably not the best idea. Although you may want to move as far away from the other parent as possible so that you don’t have to see them, you are really only hurting your children by doing that. Try to choose a new residence in the same school district, if possible. That way your kids don’t have to change schools and they can likely take the school bus from either parents home or at least have a reasonable commute to school. Choosing a new home within a 10-15 minute drive of the other parent is going to provide you the best opportunity to have the most parenting time. If you aren’t going to be able to live close to your kids, consider spending every weekend with the kids instead of time during the week and swapping the schedule in the summer. If you are able to live close, consider the “2/2/5” schedule where one parent has Monday and Tuesday nights, the other parent has Wednesday and Thursday nights and the parents rotate Friday night through Monday morning. This gives each parent a large 5 day block of time every other week.
Take into account the times school starts and ends – When parents really can’t get along, sometimes having one parent drop off at school and the other parent pick up from school can be the best situation to avoid as much contact with the other parent as possible. However, keep in mind that this forces your children to bring anything that they want to have at the other parent’s house to school which can make some children feel uncomfortable.
Take into account work schedules – It doesn’t make sense for mom to have every Tuesday night if she has to work until 8pm and dad get’s off at 3pm. I had a client once where the other parent worked an early schedule and was off at 2pm so he would get the kids from school, get them dinner and even would take them to my client’s house while she wasn’t there to get the kids all settled in until she was home.
Be flexible – I always suggest that everyone put a schedule in their Judgment of Divorce to use if they absolutely can’t agree. However, I encourage people to be flexible and to work together. If dad’s family has a special party on your weekend, swap weekends. If you have to work late, call the other parent and offer to let them keep the kids instead of getting a sitter. If one parent wants to plan a vacation that is going to conflict with the schedule, let them! Your kids will appreciate the flexibility and accommodation more than you know.
Whatever schedule you choose, your kids will appreciate you putting their needs and comfort first. Keep in mind that this is all about quality over quantity. Having the most amount of time isn’t always what’s best for your kids, they need to have a good relationship with both parents in most circumstances.
If you are thinking about filing for divorce, contact Lashier Law, PLLC at (586) 219-1984 to schedule a free no-obligation consultation.