A PARENT'S GUIDE TO HELPING CHILDREN COPE

DURING SEPARATION, DIVORCE AND BEYOND


Unless special circumstances exist, children generally fare best when they have the emotional support and ongoing involvement of both parents. Ongoing parental involvement fosters positive parent-child relationships and healthy emotional and social developments. It is also beneficial to parents because it makes it more likely the parents will have positive relationships with their children when the children become adults.


For parents who do not live together, it is important to cooperate with each other for the benefit of the children. Children adjust more easily to crisis and loss if their parents work together to develop healthy ways of communicating, resolving problems, and reducing conflict. It is important for parents to remember that formation of a positive-parent child relationship is a life-long process. The key to a successful parent-child relationship is the quality of time rather than the quantity of time spent together.


Below is a list of ways parents can help children cope with parents living apart and promote positive, healthy relationships with both parents:


Keep Children Out of the Middle

  • Parents can keep their children out of the middle of adult issues by not using the children as messengers. Sometimes the message is something as innocent as a reminder that the children must take their medication before bedtime. Other times, the message may be that the child support payment will be late. Unfortunately, we all know what happens to the bearer of bad news. If the message was difficult for one parent to say directly to the other parent, just imagine how difficult it will be for the child to relay that message. Instead of using their children as messengers, parents should either deal directly with each other or through a mutually agreed upon adult.


  • Parents can keep their children out of the middle of adult issues by not asking them to report about what is going on in the life of the other parent. Anytime children are asked to divide their loyalty, or to betray one parent to another, the children feel guilty or as if they are being asked to stop loving one parent. It is certainly appropriate for parents to show interest in the lives of their children by asking "how was your weekend visit?" But, if the interest is not in the child or in how the child feels, the child will pick up on this and may eventually feel angry and used.


  • Parents can keep their children out of the middle of adult issues by not attacking or putting down the other parent. Some parents find themselves so angry with the other parent that they vent their anger in front of their children. Other parents may say things to try to make themselves look good and the other parent look bad. Children can identify with both parents. If one parent puts down the other parent, in the eyes of the child is it as if the parent is also putting down the child.


Establish a Workable Means of Communication

Parents can help their children by establishing a workable means of communicating with each other about their children. At first, some parents may find it difficult to separate their feelings about the relationship or the other parent from their need to give and receive information about the children. Parents can over come this problem by communicating with each other about the children in a "business-like" manner. This may include agreeing about the time, place and manner of their communication. It may also include establishing a list of topics and sticking to it. Parents who are unable to talk to each other because of ongoing conflict, hostility, or issues of domestic violence, may find it easier to communicate by putting information in writing or communicating through a mutually agreed upon adult. Except in cases where there is a Personal Protection order or other court order prohibiting contact, the parent must follow the order or ask the court to modify the order to permit communication regarding the children.


Encourage Telephone and Other Contact

Parents can help their children by calling and writing them and by reasonably encouraging and assisting them to call and write the other parent. Children do best when they are able to maintain contact with both parents. While parenting time is one way to maintain that contact, other ways include telephone calls, letters, e-mail and other forms of communication. Telephone calls between parent and child should be encouraged at reasonable hours. Unless restricted by court order, parents have a right to send appropriate cards, letters, packages, e-mail, audiotapes and videocassettes to their children. Children have the same right to send items to their parents. Parents should not interfere with those rights.


Establish Similar Household Routines

Parents can help their children by following similar routines for mealtime, bedtime, and homework time. Parents can also help their children by accepting that they have limited control over what happens in the other parent's home and by respecting the authority of the other parent. From a very young age, children learn that their parents have different parenting styles. Children can adjust to some differences in routines between their parent's homes. Developmentally, though, children cope better when there is general consistency between their parent's homes because it helps them to have a sense of order.


Provide Child's Belongings

Parents can help their children transition between their parent's homes by sending along the children's important belongings, such as clothing, medicine and equipment. Parents can also help their children by sending along personal objects such as blankets, stuffed animals, photos, or memorabilia of the other parent.


Support Contact with Grandparents and Other Extended Family

Parents can help their children maintain important family ties by encouraging contact between the children and the other parent's extended family. Children who have loving relationships with their grandparents and other extended family members need to maintain those ties, otherwise they may experience a sense of loss.



46th Circuit Friend of the Court


PARENTING TIME GUIDELINES



Michigan Law states that it is presumed to be in the best interests of a child to have a strong relationship with both parents, and the Court is required to order parenting time in a way that is reasonably calculated to promote this strong relationship. If the parents can agree on the terms of parenting time, the Court will in most cases approve the agreed upon schedule.


The Court has suggested parenting time schedules as a guideline or model that parents may wish to consider when formulating a parenting time plan. The Court may apply a parenting time schedule in appropriate cases including those where the parents fail to agree upon a schedule. A parenting time guideline can only be enforced when it is referenced and made part of a Court order.


If your Court order contains the statement “reasonable parenting time” that means any parenting time upon which the parents can agree. The Friend of the Court will not be able to enforce parenting time because the order does not contain a specific schedule. If either parent wishes to have a specific schedule, the parties can enter into a written agreement and have that agreement reviewed and entered as a Court order or he/she can petition the Court.


LONG DISTANCE PARENTING TIME GUIDELINE


This Court strongly supports and encourages parents to work together to arrive at a parenting time schedule when there is geographic distance between the parties of more than two (2) but less than five (5) hours driving time, one way. Where the driving time is more than five (5) hours, a parenting time plan will need to be established on an individual basis.


Weekend Parenting Time


It is intended that the non-custodial parent will have one three overnight weekend per month during the school year. In the months with extended parenting time such as the spring and Christmas school breaks and Thanksgiving, the extended parenting time for that month will constitute the three overnight weekend. The three overnight weekend, whenever possible, should be exercised when the child(ren) have a Friday or Monday off from school for either a school holiday, in service training day or other scheduled Monday or Friday off from school as dictated by the school calendar. If, in a given month there is no Monday or Friday scheduled off from school, the non-custodial parent should ensure that the child's educational pursuits are not jeopardized by running afoul of the school district's attendance policy, if any. The non-custodial parent will be responsible to obtain the school calendar from the school district in which the child(ren) attends so that arrangements for weekend parenting time can be made at least 30 days in advance.


Spring, Summer, Thanksgiving and Winter (Christmas) Break

Spring Break

The non-custodial parent will have spring break each year beginning the day school adjourns at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes. A general itinerary will be provided to the other parent if the child(ren) are on a trip lasting more than three days away from either parent's home.

Summer Break

The non-custodial parent will have a total of eight weeks of summer parenting time to be exercised in two three week and one two week blocks of time commerncing at 6:00 p.m. the day school adjourns for the summer. Summer parenting time is to end one full week before school resumes in the fall. Summer school necessary for the child(ren) to pass to the next grade must be attended. A general itenerary will be provided to the other parent if the child(ren) are on a trip lasting more than three days away from either parent's home.

Thanksgiving Break

The non-custodial parent will have the child(ren) each Thanksgiving break from Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. to Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

Winter (Christmas) Break

The parties will share Christmas school break with the custodial parent having the first part of the break in years ending in even numbers, for seven overnights or one-half of the total overnights of the break, whichever is greater, and the non-custodial parent having the second half ending the day before school reconvenes at 6:00 p.m. In the years ending in odd numbers the non-custodial parent will have the first part of the break commencing at 6:00 p.m. on the day school adjourns for seven overnights or one-half of the total overnights of the break, whichever is greater.

Additional Parenting Time

The non-custodial parent is entitled to additional parenting time upon two days notice whenever that parent is in the geographic area of the child(ren).


When the child(ren) are within 25 miles of the non-custodial parent's residence the custodial parent must notify the other parent and offer parenting time.

Pre-School Age Children

If no child in the family is of school age, the non-custodial parent will be entitled to seven overnights per month beginning on the first Friday of the month at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Friday. This provision takes precedence over weekend, school break, summer and additional parenting time as outlined above. If there are both non-school age and school age children in the family, then the parenting time outlined above will apply.

Additional Parenting Time

Should special circumstances arise, either parent can petition the Court to request additional parenting time with the child(ren).

Transportation

Transportation will be shared equally for all parenting time established by this policy. The non-custodial parent will pick up the child(ren) at the beginning of the parenting time period and the custodial parent will pick up the child(ren) at the end of the parenting time period.


Telephone/Internet Contact

The non-custodial parent will have the right to reasonable contact with the child(ren) by telephone or electronic mail. While the children are with the non-custodial parent for extended periods of time, the custodial parent will have the right to similar reasonable contact.


Long Distance Parenting Time Offset


School Age Children: Non-Custodial Parent 91 Overnights

Custodial Parent 274 Overnights


Pre-School Age Children: Non-Custodial Parent 84 Overnights

Custodial Parent 281 Overnights



Rev. 10-2010



46th Circuit Friend of the Court


PARENTING TIME GUIDELINES


Michigan Law states that it is presumed to be in the best interests of a child to have a strong relationship with both parents, and the Court is required to order parenting time in a way that is reasonably calculated to promote this strong relationship. If the parents can agree on the terms of parenting time, the Court will in most cases approve the agreed upon schedule.


The Court has suggested parenting time schedules as a guideline or model that parents may wish to consider when formulating a parenting time plan. The Court may apply a parenting time schedule in appropriate cases including those where the parents fail to agree upon a schedule. A parenting time guideline can only be enforced when it is referenced and made part of a Court Order.


If your Court Order contains the statement “reasonable parenting time” that means any parenting time upon which the parents can agree. If you have a dispute regarding parenting time, and your order has "reasonable parenting time" language in it, the Friend of the Court will not be able to enforce parenting time because the order does not contain a specific schedule. If either parent wishes to have a specific schedule, the parties can enter into a written agreement and have that agreement reviewed and entered as a Court order or he/she can petition the Court.


STANDARD PARENTING TIME GUIDELINE


The Standard Parenting Time Guideline is for parents who live within two (2) hours driving time from each other. The parenting schedule is as follows:


Weekend Parenting Time


The non-custodial parent will be entitled to parenting time on alternating weekends from 6:00 p.m. Friday to 6:00 p.m. Sunday.


Mid-week Parenting Time


The non-custodial parent will be entitled to parenting time the Wednesday evening preceding the custodial parent's weekend from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Holiday Parenting Time


The father will have parenting time in years ending in an odd number and the mother will have parenting time in years ending in even numbers on the following holidays:


New Year's: From 6:00 p.m. on December 31st to 8:00 p.m. on January 1st


Christmas Eve: From noon on December 24th to noon on December 25th


Labor Day: From 6:00 p.m. the evening before until 8:00 p.m. on Labor Day


Memorial Day: From 6:00 p.m. the day before until 8:00 p.m. on Memorial Day


The father will have parenting time in years ending in even numbers and the mother will have parenting time in years ending in odd numbers for the following holidays:


Christmas Day: From noon on December 25th until 8:00 p.m. on December 26th


Thanksgiving: From 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday until 8:00 p.m. on Friday


4th of July: From 6:00 p.m. on July 3rd until 8:00 p.m. on July 4th


Easter: From 6:00 p.m. on Good Friday until 8:00 p.m. on Easter Sunday


With the exception of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, when a holiday falls on the Monday following the parenting time weekend, parenting time will be from Friday at 6:00 p.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. on Monday. Should the holiday fall on Friday of the parenting time weekend, parenting time will be from Thursday at 6:00 p.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. on Sunday.


Minor children age seven (7) or younger should be returned to the custodial parent by 7:00 p.m. If there is more than one child, the age of the youngest child should determine the time of return.


Father’s Day will be spent with the father each year beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m.


Mother’s Day will be spent with the mother each year beginning at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 6:00 p.m.


All holiday parenting time including Father's Day and Mother's Day will take precedence over regular weekday/weekend parenting time.


Spring, Summer and Winter (Christmas Break) Parenting Time


Spring Break


The father will have parenting time in the years ending in an even number and the mother will have parenting time in years ending in an odd number. Spring Break will occur during the spring break of the school district in which the child(ren) resides from 6:00 p.m. the day school is scheduled to recess until 6:00 p.m. the day before school is scheduled to resume.


Winter (Christmas) Break


In years ending in an odd number, the father will have parenting time from 6:00 p.m. on the date that school in the district in which the child(ren) resides recesses for the winter break until noon on December 25th and the mother will have parenting time from noon on December 25th until 6:00 p.m. on December 31st. Thereafter, the normal parenting time schedule will resume.


In years ending in an even number, the mother will have parenting time from 6:00 p.m. on the date the school district in which the child(ren) resides recesses for winter break until noon on December 25th and the father will have parenting time from noon on December 25th until 6:00 p.m. on December 31st.


Summer Break


Prior to the child’s sixth birthday, summer parenting time for the non-custodial parent will consist of four, non-consecutive one-week blocks. The one-week block will begin at 6:00 p.m. Friday on the non-custodial parent’s weekend and will end at 6:00 p.m. the following Friday when the custodial parent’s weekend begins. The blocks for summer parenting time will be determined by the school schedule for the school district in which the child resides, even if the child is not of school age.


After the child’s sixth birthday, the non-custodial parent will be entitled to six weeks of parenting time to be exercised during the time the school district in which the child(ren) resides recesses for summer break. If parenting time is exercised in three or more week blocks of time, the custodial parent will be entitled to exercise alternating weekend parenting time beginning the second Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ending on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.


Transportation


Transportation will be shared equally for all parenting time established by this policy. The non-custodial parent will pick up the child(ren) at the beginning of the parenting time period and the custodial parent will pick up the child(ren) at the end of the parent time period.


Telephone/Internet Contact


The non-custodial parent will have the right to reasonable contact with the child(ren) by telephone or electronic mail. While the child(ren) are with the non-custodial parent for extended periods of time, the custodial parent will have the right to similar reasonable contact.


Standard Parenting Time Guideline Offset


Children Six Years of Age and Older: Non-Custodial Parent 101 Overnights

Custodial Parent 264 Overnights


Children Younger than Six Years of Age: Non-Custodial Parent 87 Overnights

Custodial Parent 278 Overnights





Rev. 10-2010