A parent will always find more time to spend with his or her kid. According to a study, an American family only gets 37 minutes of quality time together per day. This number jumps to two hours and 40 minutes during the weekend, but most of the time, families still find it difficult to bond without any distraction. Some of the reasons that contribute to this include chores that need to be done and distraction from watching TV.
Quality time with the family gets complicated when the parents are not living in one roof anymore. Parenting time and visitation rights have to be ironed out, and this is where a child visitation agreement plays an important role. The State of Michigan recognizes the importance of spending quality time with parents that they have created model guidelines for parenting time.
The Importance of a Visitation Agreement
A visitation agreement or a parenting plan is essential because it identifies all the rights and the responsibilities assigned to each parent. It has to be done in writing and has to be entered by a judge thus making it official. A parenting plan should include the following details:
- Visitation dates and times – This includes holidays, spring, summer, and even winter break. Arrangements can also be made on how the child will spend Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. The state of Michigan suggests the child to be with the mother for the entire weekend of Mother’s Day, and with the father for the whole weekend of Father’s Day.
- Custody type – Is it joint custody, sole custody or shared custody? The court will decide what type of custody will be ordered.
- The rights and responsibilities of each parent – This includes, though not limited to, the following:
- attendance of each parent during school and extracurricular activities
- the right of a parent to be updated on all medical conditions and even doctor appointments
- the considerations in including a third party during parenting time
- the division of cost for transporting the child to the agreed location
The visitation agreement has to be properly planned out and agreed upon by both parents. Once all the details are ironed out and the parenting plan is made legal, each parent becomes bound by it. No relationship is perfect, and it is inevitable that one of the parents may breach the contract. The initial action to take is to talk about it first and find out the reason behind the breach. Who knows, the issue may merely be resolved by revisiting the agreements and updating the visitation schedule.
What to Do When a Parent Withholds a Child from Visitation
If the custodial parent happens to withhold the visitation occasionally, the visitation schedule can be revisited and should be made-up. The non-custodial parent should make sure to take note of the dates and times of missed visitation. Whether it’s via a calendar, a written journal or a digital copy, the dates and times should be recorded to schedule make-up dates properly.
When a breach in visitation agreement is repeatedly happening, a more severe disposition has to be taken, especially if it is confirmed that the custodial parent is withholding the child from the non-custodial parent. In the event that the custodial parent refuses to let the non-custodial parent spend time with the child, the non-custodial parent may take various actions including calling the police. However, in these types of situations, the police department may not want to get involved. This is because the situation is a domestic dispute, and trying to enforce visitation through the police will only create more hostility between the parents. When the case becomes hostile, the event can be traumatic for the child.
The smarter route to take is to get in touch with an attorney who can file a court petition to execute the visitation rights. It is essential to keep in mind that some states have begun making visitation denial a criminal offense. This means that a parent who is found guilty of denying visitation rights may be arrested and sent to jail for contempt of court.
Be Smart and Make Sure to Get Expert Family Law Advice from a Michigan Attorney
A lawyer is a non-custodial parent’s best bet to resolve the withholding of a child from visitation. A qualified lawyer will be able to provide legal advice and plan out the proper action to take in this kind of situation. The Clark Law Office has some of the top-rated divorce lawyers in Lansing, Michigan. Call us at (517) 347 6900 for a free consultation.