Parenting time suspension requires periodic reviews

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By Marie E. Matyjaszek

Suspending a parent’s right to parenting time is one of the most difficult events that can happen to a family.

The children and parent are no longer allowed contact until the court orders that it is in the child’s best interest to reestablish parenting time, and this can dramatically change the relationship between the child and estranged parent. Generally, this places the entire responsibility of caring for the kids on the parent who did not have his or her parenting time suspended, which causes extra strain financially, physically, and emotionally.

In 2018, the Michigan Court of Appeals released a published decision, Luna v Regnier, 326 Mich App 173, which addressed suspension of parenting time and what legal follow-up needed to happen. In this case, mom and dad had three children, two of whom were still minors when the appellate court was involved. Allegations of neglect necessitated Child Protective Services (CPS) involvement and the children were placed in foster care for a time.

Eventually, dad was awarded sole legal and physical custody with mom receiving supervised parenting time; however, as time went on, the trial court ruled that mom’s parenting time was suspended “until the minor children requested contact with [mom].” Mom appealed the ruling, arguing that there was not enough evidence for the court to determine she was a danger to the kids, but the Court of Appeals disagreed and affirmed the lower court’s decision to suspend her parenting time.

However, the appellate court remanded the case so that the trial court could conduct periodic hearings to determine if mom should have parenting time in the future. The court summarized its reasoning very clearly: “Without a mechanism for further review, [mom’s] parental rights are effectively nonexistent.”

Maybe things won’t change, and the reviews will result in more of the same. But if the court gives up on a parent, they have very little incentive to do better for themselves or their children.
(The author is an Attorney Referee at the Washtenaw County Friend of the Court; however, the views expressed in this column are her own. She can be reached at matyjasz@hotmail.com.) 

 

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