When a couple with minor children divorces, a child custody order is a key part of their divorce settlement. Parents can have joint physical custody of their child, which means the child lives in both houses, alternating between them according to a specified custody schedule. In some cases, one parent has sole custody of the children, which means the children live with that parent permanently.
Unless the court determines that spending time with the non-custodial parent would expose the children to some type of risk or harm, it generally creates a parenting time order as part of the child custody order. Parenting time was once known as visitation. Generally, if a parent asks for parenting time, the court grants it.
The court considers a variety of factors to determine an appropriate parenting time plan for a child. These factors include the logistics of a proposed parenting time plan, like how far the parents live from each other and how realistic their transportation schedule for the children is.
It also considers specific factors about the children’s best interest. These factors include:
Courts recognize that except for in extreme cases, it is in a child’s best interest to spend time with both parents. When one parent has a history of harming his or her child or currently struggles with an addiction or another lifestyle issue that could pose a risk to the child, the court may order supervised parenting time.
With supervised parenting time, the supervisor can be a friend, another family member, or a party assigned by the court. In some cases, the court also designates a specific visitation place.
When the children have an established custodial environment (ECE), the court may be less likely to alter a parenting time order than it would if no such stable custodial environment existed. However, a parent may file a motion to change his or her parenting time schedule if he or she feels the current parenting time order is not appropriate for the child. When a parent files this type of motion, the onus to prove that there has been a significant change in circumstances to necessitate the change is on the parent.
Parenting time is a key part of many child custody orders. To learn more about parenting time, including how it is determined and how you can modify your parenting time order, contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office today to set up your initial legal consultation with an experienced family lawyer.
To talk with our attorney about your legal concerns, contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office by calling 616-698-0000. You may also complete our online contact form. After-hours consultations are available by appointment. We are also available on Skype by appointment.