House Bill 4691
House Bill 4691 has caused a bit of a debate since it was introduced last year. Michigan judges, attorneys, and families have been advocating and protesting this potential new legislature for over a year now. What will possibly be known as the Michigan Shared Parenting Act is currently awaiting its second reading by the Michigan congressional leaders. So, what is all the commotion?
For several decades shared parenting time between separating mother and fathers has always defaulted to the “every other weekend” schedule. The majority of the time, fathers were granted parenting time with their children every other weekend and alternating holidays. Many custody and parenting time agreements deviated from this generalization, however, for most Michigan children from separated parents, this was the norm. The House of Representatives sought to change this norm and institute law to ensure that Michigan parents were guaranteed an equal outcome when deciding to separate from their children’s other parent. How? The proposed bill would:
• Require a judge to grant joint legal custody and substantially equal parenting time, unless
there’s a preponderance of evidence of domestic violence in the family.
• Prohibit a parent from moving more than 80 miles away from the other parent.
• If a child is 16 or older, the child’s preference on custody has to be given substantial weight
by the judge.
What is the difference? Well, on top of doing away with the “every other weekend” standard, currently, Michigan law states that parents cannot move more than 100 miles away from each other. Additionally, the weight of the child’s preference is usually not very substantial. While the older the child is, the more weight their preference is given, judges are given great deference in how much weight to give this factor when determining parenting time. If House Bill 4691 passes, all of that will change.
Why is this a bad thing? Why is this a good thing? Proponents for House Bill 4691 rely on studies that have shown that the benefits of shared parenting outweigh the judge’s need to have discretion in child custody disputes. On the opposing end, many judges have spoken out against House Bill 4691 stating that the judge must be allowed to have discretion in these cases, and that shared parenting time cannot be presumed to be in the best interest of every Michigan family.
It has not passed yet, but House Bill 4691 has already seemed to cause a ruckus in Court’s today. Judge’s are referencing the fact that Michigan is becoming more “pro 50/50” and are starting to implement that ideology in their rulings.
If you need advice from an experienced family law attorney regarding your custody and parenting time issues, , the Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz can help.Please give us a call today and schedule your free consultation at 248-557-3645