If your family law case involves custody and parenting time, there are many issues that you need to think about. And if you and the other parent are trying to come to an agreement regarding custody and parenting time, you need to know what your agreement should contain. The following is a list of issues that you should incorporate into your final order:
Legal custody involves which parent has the ability to make decisions regarding the child’s education, health, and welfare. When parties share joint legal custody, it means that they are to consult the other on major decisions.
Physical custody involves where the child will primarily live; who actually raises the child in their home. The parties may agree to joint physical custody, even if the child resides primarily with one parent.
There are many parenting time schedules that can be considered. Do you want 50/50, every other weekend, or something in between? When deciding on a parenting time schedule you and the other parent should look at the age of your child(ren), where the children attend school, your employment schedules, your ability to exercise the time you are asking for. Come up with a parenting time schedule that makes sense, and that is in the best interest of your child(ren).
In most counties in Michigan, the judge will require you to rotate all major holidays. The major holidays can differ between counties. However, the following is a basic list of holidays that are observed in most family courts: New Years Eve, New Years Day, Easter, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Spring Break, Christmas Break, and Mother’s Day/Father’s Day. If your county has a holiday parenting time schedule you may follow that. If you and the other parent want to create your own holiday schedule, you are free to do so. Note, that holiday parenting time takes precedence over any regularly scheduled parenting time.
Some parties want to include a provision in their agreements about telephone calls with the child(ren) during the other parent’s parenting time. If you wish to add a telephone contact provision, it should include the days and times of the calls. If you decide to add this provision to your written agreement, it will be upheld by the court.
You and the other parent are free to agree on any transportation arrangement you like. However, if you are unable to come to an agreement, the court will order that the parent who is starting his or her parenting time shall be responsible for transportation. Typically, the court will allow transportation to be provided by the parent or by a member of the parent’s immediate family. They will also require that all transportation be provided by a properly licensed individual who has a properly licensed and registered vehicle, and that all legally required restraints be present and used (seat belts/car seats).
Who gets to claim the child(ren) on their taxes is overlooked by many parents. It’s important that you and the other parent come to an agreement regarding tax exemptions or you most likely will find yourself in court in the future arguing over this issue. The typical agreement is that tax emptions will be rotated between the parties (one party receiving the exemptions in even years and the other parent receiving the exemptions in odd years). If you have more than one child, you may also consider an agreement in which each of you will take one child every year (with your agreement stating who will claim what child).
And again, who will pay for extra-curricular activities is another issue that gets overlooked in many agreements. Your child(ren) may not currently be of age that they are participating in any extra-curricular activities. However, it’s best to talk about it now. You and the other parent can agree that you will equally share in the costs. Or you can agree to a different percentage other than one half. It’s also a good idea to have a yearly cap on the expenses. That way, you both clearly understand your maximum yearly out-of-pocket expenses as it relates to extra-curricular activity expenses. And you can agree that once the cap is met, if you or the other parent want to place the child(ren) in other extra-curricular activities the enrolling parent will be solely responsible for all costs.
CONTACT SCHMITT LAW, PLLC FOR LEGAL ADVICE ON CUSTODY. GRAND RAPIDS FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY SERVING KENT, OTTAWA, AND ALLEGAN COUNTY.
At Schmitt Law, PLLC, we help parents work together to create a custody and parenting plan that is in the best interests of your children. Through mediation, collaboration, or litigation, if necessary, our knowledgeable Michigan family law attorney will be your advocate and help you through this difficult time. To schedule a consultation or learn more about our services, contact us online or call (616) 608-4634.