Divorce Blog
Kalamazoo - Divorce Law Blog

How are Custody and Parenting Time Arrangements Made?

Posted January 27, 2019

You and your child’s other parent can agree on a custody and parenting time plan, or the court can decide. The court will often approve a custody and parenting time plan the parents have made together. This is especially true if it allows the child to spend time with both parents. The court must also believe that the custody and parenting time plan is in the best interests of your child.

If you and the other parent don’t agree, the court will decide custody and parenting time using the Michigan Child Custody Act's “best interests of the child” factors. There will be a hearing with a Friend of the Court staff or a judge. Both parents can testify, and family members, teachers, expert witnesses, and others can too.

The court may also look at other evidence, like school records and medical reports. However, the court can only review records if:

The parties agree to the review OR

The records are admitted into evidence under the Michigan Rules of Evidence

The law says generally that custody arrangements for children should remain stable. Because of that, the court will always ask whether the child has an "established custodial environment" with one or both parents. If so, it will take more evidence for a court to change the current arrangement.

When answering this question, the judge looks at what the child's life is actually like, not just what the order says. Does the child look to one (or both) of the parents for love and affection, food, housing, etc.? Is the child old enough to have been in the current arrangement for a significant amount of time?


What is the Uniform ChildCustody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act?

Posted December 4, 2018

A Michigan court may exercise jurisdiction in a child protective proceeding under the Uniform Child‐Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), MCL 722.1101 et seq. The UCCJEA, MCL 722.1101 et seq., governs the procedures in child custody proceedings when one or both of a child’s parents reside outside of Michigan.27 It also provides for enforcement and modification of out-of‐ state custody decrees, judgments, or orders. The UCCJEA does not apply to proceedings involving adoption or the authorization of emergency medical care for a child. MCL 722.1103.28. The UCCJEA defines a child custody proceeding as “a proceeding in which legal custody, physical custody, or parenting time with respect to a child is an issue.” MCL 722.1102(d). Child custody proceedings include cases involving:

(1) divorce, separate maintenance, and separation;

(2) neglect, abuse, and dependency;

(3) guardianship matters;

(4) paternity and termination of parental rights; and

(5) protection from domestic violence. MCL 722.1102(d).

For purposes of child protective proceedings, a Michigan court may exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction over a child. A Michigan court obtains temporary emergency jurisdiction when:

(1)There is an abandoned child in Michigan; or

(2)A child, the child’s sibling, or the child’s parent is being mistreated or abused or being threatened with mistreatment or abuse. MCL 722.1204(1).

A Michigan court may issue an order to take a child into custody if it appears likely that a child will suffer imminent physical harm or will be removed from the state. MCL 722.1310(1). If a proceeding has been commenced in or a custody determination has been made by another state’s court, a Michigan court’s order must specify a time period during which it will remain in effect. MCL 722.1204(3). The time period must be adequate to allow a person to seek an order from the other state’s court. In such circumstances, the Michigan court must immediately communicate with a court in the other state in order to “resolve the emergency, protect the safety of the parties and the child, and determine a period for the duration of the temporary order.” MCL 722.1204(4).

If there is no previous child custody determination or no commencement of a child custody proceeding, entry of a court’s order during the temporary emergency will remain in effect until entry of an order by another court having jurisdiction. MCL 722.1204(2). If a child‐custody proceeding has not been, and is not, commenced in another state’s court with jurisdiction over the matter, the determination made by the Michigan court during the temporary emergency becomes the final child custody determination, if the Michigan court intends its determination to be final and Michigan becomes the child’s home state.



Posted November 23, 2018

Any rights in and to vested pension, annuity, or retirement benefits, or accumulated contributions in any pension, annuity, or retirement system, payable to or on behalf of a party on account of service credit accrued by the party during marriage shall be considered part of the marital estate subject to award by the court under this chapter.

Any rights or contingent rights in and to unvested pension, annuity, or retirement benefits payable to or on behalf of a party on account of service credit accrued by the party during marriage may be considered part of the marital estate subject to award by the court under this chapter where just and equitable.

Upon motion of a party or upon consent of the parties, an order of the court under this section entered before the effective date of the amendatory act that added this subsection shall be amended to satisfy the requirements of an eligible domestic relations order and to effectuate the intent of the parties or the ruling of the court. As used in this subsection, “eligible domestic relations order” means a domestic relations order that is an eligible domestic relations order under the eligible domestic relations order act.

MCL 552.18


Domestic Relations Orders:

Posted October 15, 2018

In a recent Divorce case, the Court ordered that wife be retained as survivor of husband's state pension, which resulted in invasion of portion of pension benefits that were husband's separate property, was not inequitable, in view of trial court's consideration of security of family, and evidence that marital estate awarded to wife, who was unemployed, would be insufficient to maintain her, and that wife faced no medical coverage, insurance benefits costing $560 per month, and personal retirement savings plan of $25,000.

Pickering v Pickering , 268 Mich App 1; 706 NW 2d 835,(2005)


Enforcing Custody Orders

Posted September 2, 2018

The Friend of the Court (FOC) is required to enforce custody and parenting time orders. You can file a written complaint with the FOC to start enforcement proceedings if you:

  • Were denied parenting time or
  • Believe your ex-spouse violated the custody or parenting time terms of your Judgment of Divorce.

The FOC will notify your ex-spouse of your complaint. It will encourage you to resolve the dispute yourselves. If it can’t be resolved, or if your ex-spouse doesn’t respond to the complaint, the FOC can:

  • Order make-up visitation (for missed parenting time) or
  • Request an order for a show cause hearing

At a show cause hearing the judge will decide whether your ex-spouse is in contempt for failing to obey the terms of the JOD. The judge will also decide what remedies to use. If the court schedules a show cause hearing you should attend. You can let the FOC know about the custody or parenting time violation and what remedy you want to ask the court for.

If your ex-spouse doesn’t pay a debt assigned to him or her in the Judgment of Divorce and you pay it, you can file a motion asking the court to make your ex-spouse repay you. If the Judgment of Divorce ordered your ex-spouse to return certain items to you and they have not been returned, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce their return. To enforce property provisions of your Judgment of Divorce the court can also:

  • Appoint a receiver to take physical control of the property
  • Award interest
  • Use contempt proceedings

If your ex-spouse doesn’t sign the paperwork needed to transfer title to property you were awarded in your Judgment of Divorce, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce the title transfer. If there are any other terms from the Judgment of Divorce that your ex-spouse doesn’t obey, you can file a motion asking the court to enforce those terms.








Understanding your rights is essential when you are involved in an emotional family law matter. The Kalamazoo Family Law Attorneys at Hettinger & Hettinger, P.C. have experience in nearly every facet of family law including divorce, custody, child support, parenting time, and adoption.