In the recent case of Medford v. Verkade, the trial court entered an opinion and order awarding full legal and primary physical custody of the parties’ minor child to the father (Mr. Medford). The trial court also awarded limited parenting time to the mother. Specifically, every other weekend, three nonconsecutive weeks per year, and certain holidays. Apart from the three weeks and holidays, the order effectively limited her parenting time to four days per month. Subsequently, the mother appealed the trial court’s determination.
The Michigan Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s custody order with respect to physical and legal custody and reversed the trial court’s order with respect to parenting time, and remand for a new determination of parenting time, holding that every other weekend parenting time was not enough without explanation and analysis.
The Michigan Court of Appeals determined that the trial court erred when it awarded the mother every other weekend parenting because it did not establish a strong bond with the minor child.
The parenting time statute can be found in Michigan Compiled Laws section 722.27a. Subsection (1) of the parenting time statute provides:
Parenting time shall be granted in accordance with the best interests of the child. It is presumed to be in the best interests of a 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 a frequency, duration, and type reasonably calculated to promote a strong relationship between the child and the parent granted parenting time.
To ensure that parenting-time orders foster a strong parent-child relationship, in addition to the best-interest factors set forth in MCL 722.23, MCL 722.27a(7) provides parenting-time factors that a court may consider when “determining the frequency, duration, and type of parenting time to be granted.” In addition, the age of the minor child and the child’s stage of development are important factors to take into consideration when crafting a parenting-time schedule.
Here, the trial court entered a parenting-time order that limited mother’s parenting time to every other weekend, three nonconsecutive weeks per year, and certain holidays. Apart from the three weeks and holidays, the order effectively limited her parenting time to four days per month. The Michigan Court of Appeals determined that the trial court did not articulate how this parenting-time arrangement was in the minor child’s best interests, and it did not take into consideration any of the parenting-time factors listed in MCL 722.27a(7).
The parenting time decision was reversed and sent back to the trial court for a proper analysis.
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By: Daniel Findling