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RESOURCES - SINGLE AND DIVORCING PARENTS

« Gardasil | Merck | Lobbying | Main | Parental Kidnapping: Useful Resources for the Left-Behind Parent »

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Michigan's Electronic Visitation HB 4174, is limited to "(b) The electronic communication requested is in the best interests of the child."

Currently under Pickering V Pickering the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that parenting time shall be granted unless there is clear and convincing evidence that it's not in the best interests of the child. (or similar)

"UPON A MOTION OR REQUEST FOR SPECIFIC PARENTING TIME MADE AT ANY TIME, PARENTING TIME MUST BE GRANTED IN SPECIFIC TERMS. MCL 722.27a ALSO REQUIRES THAT THE PARENTING TIME BE GRANTED IN “A FREQUENCY, DURATION, AND TYPE REASONABLY CALCULATED TO PROMOTE A STRONG RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE CHILD AND PARENT"

http://courts.co.calhoun.mi.us/05dom033.htm

That is, there is a presumption of fitness for the non-custodial parent upon awarding parenting time. This ALREADY includes telephone time, which is awarded by default when the child is with a parent for 5 (?) or more days.

Electronic Visitation HB 4174 would erode this presumption and allow telephone visitation only under the "best interests" factors. The non-custodial parent could loose telephone visitation simply because the judge doesn't think it's what's best for the child, with no effective standard of evidence.

Worse yet, it's been reported on this list that most local courts still are failing to recognize Pickering, and are awarding parenting time only on the basis of their view of the best interests of the child, without respect for the fundamental liberty interests of parents in the care of their children. (Troxel V Granville, etc).

Because this state of law is so tenuous, further eroding the legal protections for non-custodial parents by allowing some parenting time decisions based on the best interests factors could be a trojan horse ruling allowing an overturn of Pickering and further erosion of non-custodial parent's rights.

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