On October 26, 2023, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued its opinion in the case of Josey vs. Hayes. An appeal filed by Ms. Hayes after the trial court found her in contempt of court for failing to abide by a parenting time order. Althought Ms. Hayes managed to win on appeal (the trial court failed to follow certain procedural requirements), this case informs us how to enforce parenting time.
When a Court issues a parenting time order, it is an Order of the Court. While it is expected that people follow court’s orders, that is not always the case. Typically, a party seeking to enforce a parenting time order (or any other order for that matter), will ask the court to make a finding of contempt.
Contempt is a power granted to courts to enforce their orders through punishment or to compel obiedience to its orders and there are two types of contempt. Criminal contempt and civil contempt.
With criminal contempt, the court imposes a punitive sanction. Criminal contempt typically includes a jail term to vindicate the court’s authority. See: In Re CotneIn re Contempt of United Stationers Supply Co. See also. MCL 600.1701. Probationary terms may also be imposed in cases of criminal contempt. MCL 600.1715(1)
With civil contempt, the court imposes coercive sanctions to force compliance with its orders, such as paying money. However, both civil and criminal contempt may be punished by imprisonment, a fine, or both. MCL 600.1715(1). There are three different sanctions available to a court to remedy or redress contemptuous behavior:
1. criminal punishment to vindicate the court’s authority;
2. civil coercion, to force compliance with an order; and
3. compensatory relief to the complainant.
So how do you enforce a parenting time order?
While there is nothing a court can do to make your ex a better parent, the court can enforce its orders through the power of contempt. You can file a motion to hold the other parent in contempt violating the parenting time order . The Court can then punish (criminal contempt) or compel compliance with its order (civil contempt) with fines or even jail.
By: Daniel Findling (2023)
Our Core Values
I have been exclusively practicing divorce and family law in Michigan for over two decades. The attorneys at Findling Law all share the core value of practicing law to help people navigate change in their lives, without compromising principles. We specialize in high socio-economic, high-profile and high-conflict cases, while also working with clients of all backgrounds. We recognize that the most important aspect of the practice of law is the application of the law to your specific circumstances. That is why we provide more free information on divorce and family law than any other Michigan law firm. We want to help you manage your situation. Allow our exceptional legal team to help you navigate the change in your life, without compromising principles.