Q: I have read that custody determinations are made based upon the best interests of the child. Shouldn't that always be a 50-50 parenting time arrangement? It just doesn't seem fair any other way.

A: You're right; custody cases are decided based upon the best interest of the child factors contained in the Child Custody Act. However, there is nothing in that law that talks about the rights of the parents. It is all based on what is best for the child. I often have the discussion regarding equal parenting time with my clients. One question I ask them is, "Was parenting time equal while you were married?" Most people will say "no". Often times, one spouse works more than the other, and one or the other may even stay home full-time with the children. Custody and parenting time determinations look at stability and maintaining the established custodial environment first and foremost. If you have been working 80 hours a week or traveling extensively, don't expect the court to give you equal parenting time if your spouse has been staying home full-time with young children. The court will look at what the children have become accustomed to, and it will be assumed that they will be better off in the care of a parent and not in daycare while you are off working. Please see the custody section on this website for a more thorough discussion of child custody.

For more information about parenting time in Michigan divorce cases, click here.