Family Law Blog
Paw Paw Family Law Blog

Enforcing Custody and Parenting Time Orders

Posted December 3, 2018

The 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.

Custody and Parenting Time

Posted November 14, 2018

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?

Mediation is an Alternative to Trial

Posted October 12, 2018

Mediation is a settlement process. It can help you resolve issues in your divorce case. Mediation can be used instead of going to court and having a judge make decisions.

In mediation you and your spouse meet with a neutral mediator. The mediator will help you find solutions to your divorce issues. The goal of mediation is to reach a fair agreement that both you and your spouse accept.

Mediation can be voluntary or the court can order you to attend mediation. Mediation works best when it's voluntary and both parties think it will help them resolve their disputes. But, mediation can still work well when the court orders it.

Issues that Mediation May Address:

Mediation can resolve the issues that you and your spouse don’t agree on. Before going to mediation, you should think about the problems that you want to cover. The following family law issues are often mediated:

  • Child custody and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • Property and debt division

Normally you and your spouse will meet together with the mediator several times. You will each have a chance to tell the mediator and what you want to happen in the divorce. The mediator is not a judge and won’t decide who is right or wrong in your case. The mediator won’t make decisions for you.Mediation is a cooperative process. The mediator will help you and your spouse make joint decisions. This type of mediation is called facilitative mediation.

You and your spouse can ask the mediator to make a written recommendation about any issues you can't resolve during mediation. This is called evaluative mediation. The mediator can only make a recommendation if both you and your spouse ask for one. Neither of you can be punished if you don’t accept your mediator’s recommendation. No one can tell the judge what the recommendation said if one or both of you reject it.