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Custody & Parenting Time

Custody

A custodial parent is a parent who has the child living with him or her and has primary care, custody and responsibility for the child. If there is a legal father (see paternity establishment) and custody is disputed, or if parents are divorcing, either parent can file a complaint requesting custody with the circuit court in the county where they live. There are many different types of custody arrangements and the court must decide what type of custody will be ordered.

Parenting Time

Parenting time is the time the non-custodial parent (the parent who does not have the child living with him or her most of the time) spends with the child. See the Parenting Time Guideline for additional information. The court order will indicate who has custody and who has parenting time.

If the other parent is not obeying the parenting time order, you may:

  • Contact the Friend of the Court and request that they initiate enforcement of the parenting time order. The Friend of the Court is required to enforce parenting time orders and usually starts enforcement action when a written complaint is received.
  • File a motion, with or without an attorney, and ask the court to enforce the parenting time order.

Possible enforcement actions are "makeup" parenting time; a civil contempt hearing; modifying existing parenting time and/or custody provisions; or Alternate Dispute Resolution Services available in the county.

Parenting Time without Support Payments

If the other parent is not making child support payments required by the court, you must continue to obey the court-ordered parenting time provisions and allow parenting time.

Child Not Living with the Custodial Parent 

If your child is not living with the custodial parent, you must continue to obey the court order's support provisions until the order is changed by the court. Contact your Friend of the Court for further information about your case.

Parent Refuses to See His or Her Child 

The Friend of the Court cannot force a parent to see his or her children. To promote a positive relationship with the children and the other parent, consider counseling, mediation, or filing a motion to change the parenting time order.

Parent Refuses to Return the Child 

If the other parent refuses to return the child as specified in the parenting time order, contact the police or the prosecuting attorney and ask to file a parental kidnapping charge.


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