What happens when your ex buys cell phones for your child and you don’t agree with that decision? And you don’t agree with the child possessing and using the cell phone during your parenting time. What can you do?
IS IT A JOINT LEGAL DECISION OR NOT?
- WHAT THE COURTS SAY
The Michigan courts are not settled in their opinions about whether or not a child having a cell phone is a joint legal decision. Some judges believe that it is a joint legal decision, due to the inherent risks posed due to the access to the internet and social media. Conversely, other judges believe it is not, that it is a routine decision allowing for parental discretion while a child is in their care.
If the court believe that the purchase of a cell phone is a routine decision, then your ex would have parental discretion over the use, restriction, or possession of that cell phone while your child is in their care. Therefore, your ex can purchase a cell phone for your child and allow them to use it during their parenting time.
BUT IT IS STILL YOUR DISCRETION
However, this doesn’t mean your ex can require you allow your child use of the cell phone when your child is at your house. It is within your discretion to prohibit the phone’s use during your parenting time (just like you having the ability to limit screen time or ground your child from a devise as a punishment). This means your ex can’t force you to allow your child use of the cell phone during your parenting time, as access to a cell phone during parenting time is a routine parenting decision that is within your discretion.
The general rule is “It’s your house – your rules, and their house – their rules”.
TRANSPORT OF THE CELL PHONE TO YOUR HOUSE
- WHAT THE COURT SAYS
But what happens when your ex allows your child to transport the cell phone to your home during your parenting time? Some judges have ruled that the cell phone will not be transported with the child to the other parent’s home. Why? Because you shouldn’t be responsible for a lost or stolen phone and your ex expecting you to pay for a new cell phone.
But now you become the bad guy with your child. If you never agreed to the purchase of the cell phone in the first place, this puts you in the position of either taking the cell phone away when your child arrives at your home or having to restrict your child’s use of the cell phone. Inform your ex that the cell phone can’t be transported with the child.
And you don’t want to be put in the position of micromanaging your child’s use: social media, the internet, who they may be talking to, or texting. Most likely, this was the very reason you did not want your child having a cell phone – the concern about what your child is accessing on that cell phone. And perhaps you believe your child is too young to have a cell phone, and that there is no legitimate reason for your child to need a cell phone.
WE CAN HELP! GRAND RAPIDS COLLABORATIVE DIVORCE ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
We know your legal issues are unique and special. If you are having a post-divorce issue related to your children’s use of cell phone, the internet, or social media, call us, we will listen. To schedule a consultation or learn more about our services, contact Schmitt Law, PLLC online or call (616) 608-4634.