Enacted on January 4, 2005 and effective immediately, Public Act 542 of 2004 (SB 727) amends the Child Custody Act and restores grandparenting time.
This statute is different from Michigan's previous grandparenting time law in several ways, including:
Under the new law, a grandparent can seek an order for time with grandchildren if:
A grandparent must request an order by filing a motion with the circuit court in the county where a divorce or similar action would be filed. If no such court is known, it can be filed in the county where the child resides. An affidavit, a written statement describing facts that support the request and signed by the person offering the facts, must be filed at the same time. A grandparent must give notice to the child’s legal custodian and anyone else with parenting time that was previously ordered by the court.
The child’s legal custodian may file their own affidavit to oppose the request. The court will hold a hearing if it is requested.
If the court considers a child’ parents to be fit parents, and the parents do not want a grandparent to get a visitation order, the court must dismiss the grandparent’s request.
Otherwise, the law sets up a two-part process. First, a grandparent asking for grandparenting time must present evidence to the court showing that the parent's decision to deny grandparenting time creates a substantial risk of harm to the child. Second, if the grandparent makes such a showing to the court, the court must decide, based on the evidence presented by both the grandparent and the child’s parent, whether grandparenting time is in the best interests of the child.
The statute lists the following factors the court must consider:
When parents and grandparents disagree about grandparenting time, the court may require them to try to come to an agreement with the help of a mediator. If no agreement is reached, the court must decide the issue.
A grandparent may file a request for grandparenting time only once every 2 years, unless there is a special reason the court accepts as sufficient for making a request more often.
If a person who succeeds in getting a grandparenting order is represented by an attorney, the court may require the opposing party to pay attorney fees.
To modify or terminate a grandparenting time order, the court must find that facts arising since entry of the order or facts that were not available when the order was entered prove that a change in circumstances regarding the child or child's parent has occurred. In addition, the court must find that modification or termination is necessary to avoid a substantial risk of harm to the child.