When Michigan parents are going through a divorce, child custody and visitation can sometimes be a contentious issue. If they are unable to agree on it themselves, the judge will make the decision. Unless there are extreme circumstances such as substance abuse, for example, the noncustodial parent will likely be awarded some form of visitation.
In some cases, the court will order reasonable visitation. This means that it is up to the parents to come up with a plan that works best for both them and their children. This is the preferred method when parents are still able to cooperate. It allows for flexibility which maximizes the availability and desire of both parents as best as they can. The problem with reasonable visitation is that the parent with custodial rights has more power over visitation times and duration.
A fixed visitation schedule is where the judge orders specific times when the non-custodial parent will have visitation. These times can include, for example, alternating weekend and specified holidays. If it is clear that conflict still exists between the parents and that it doesn’t appear that they will be willing to cooperate with each other, judges may find that fixed visitation is better for all parties involved, especially the children.
In the end, family court judges make decisions like these on the basis of what they perceive to be in the best interests of the child. In some cases, parents might be more pleased with the result if they are able to negotiate a parenting agreement with the help of their respective attorneys that sets forth each parent’s rights and responsibilities than if the judge makes the decision.