When parents in Michigan separate or get divorced and they share minor children from their marriage, the court will determine how the parents share child custody. Child custody includes making important decisions about the child’s upbringing (i.e., legal custody) as well as providing care for the child through parenting time. These responsibilities are outlined in a “parenting plan.” You should know that a parenting plan is distinct from a parenting schedule. To be clear, most parents share parenting time in some capacity unless there is a clear reason to restrict one of the parent’s ability to have parenting time altogether. For purposes of parenting time, the parties will be required to adhere to the terms of a parenting time schedule that details when each parent will have the child for overnights, who will handle extracurricular pickups, and so forth. The parenting plan outlines the rights and responsibilities of each parent.
What should you do if the other parent refuses to follow the parenting plan?
What is Included in a Parenting Plan?
Before we explain the steps you should take if your ex will not adhere to the terms of the parenting plan, we want to provide you with more information about this document. Under Michigan law, a parenting plan, or child custody order, outlines the parents’ obligations and responsibilities, such as:
- How parents will share legal custody of their children, which involves making important decisions about the child’s upbringing and well-being; and
- How the parents will share physical custody, or parenting time, of the child; and
- Schedule for sharing parenting time (the parenting time schedule is usually included within the parenting plan, or child custody order).
What Should I Do if My Ex Violates the Child Custody Order?
Your parenting plan, or child custody order, is a document that has legal force. Accordingly, if a parent violates the terms of the parenting plan, that parent can face both civil and criminal consequences. While the possibility of criminal action will depend upon the facts of the case, you can work with your lawyer to ask the court to enforce the order. To enforce a parenting plan, the court can take steps such as holding your ex in contempt, and in some cases can even place the violating parent in jail.
If your ex had good reason for violating the order, the court may take other actions such as modifying the existing parenting plan to account for a change in circumstances.
No matter what, you should ask the court to enforce the order rather than attempting to force your ex to abide by the terms on your own. Since the parenting power is a legally binding document, the court can take actions that you alone cannot.
Contact an Experienced Michigan Child Custody Attorney
If you share custody of your child with your ex and your ex will not follow the parenting plan, it is time to seek advice from an experienced Michigan child custody lawyer who can help. You may be able to petition the court to enforce the order, and the court can take additional steps to ensure that your ex adheres to the terms. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins for more information about enforcing a child custody order in Michigan.