Michigan Child Custody Reform sign now

Please read and sign this petition. It will be submitted to the Michigan legislature for proposal.

I. Joint Physical/Joint Legal Custody



Presumption of Joint Physical Custody
Issue: Current statistics in the State of Michigan support the premise that there is an unwritten presumption that one parent will raise children. This has been confirmed and supported by testimony from the Legislature, Judges, Lawyers, and Councelors.

Solution: Initiate and pass legislation to mandate a presumption of joint physical custody, except in cases of unfitness.



128 Day Rule for Overnight Visits and the Cliff Effect
Issue: Parents and courts are reluctant to award joint physical custody due to the effects of the 128 day rule and its affect on child support.

Solution: The child support formula should be revised to remove all references to 128 days of overnights.



Change of Domicile
Issue: Parents frequently move more than 100 miles from the non-custodial parent.

Solution: Provide education to judges in Michigan on the 100 mile rule for change of domicile. Implement fines and penalties, including change of custody, to parents that violate the rule without court approval.



12 Child Custody Items for Change of Custody
Issue: The 12 criteria for child custody do not consider current sociological changes of the extended family.

Solution: Create a task force to review and update the Child Custody Act of 1970.



Inter-State / Intra-State
Issue: Different Counties in Michigan and States have different application and guidelines of custody and child support.

Solution: Further standardize child support and visitation guidelines in Michigan, emphasizing joint physical custody and shared economic responsibility.



II. Paternity



Paternity Fraud
Issue: Mothers may designate a Father without burden of proof or notification of the alleged Father.

Solution: Require a statement by medical institutions to the alleged Father of the rights of parents to request a paternity test. Require confirmed notification to the alleged Father.



DNA testing of unmarried parents
Issue: Un-wed Fathers are frequently duped into being the Father of children.

Solution: Specify mandatory DNA testing of unwed parents.



Children born in unstable marriages
Issue: Married parents in unstable relationships may have children that are not of the paternal parents. Frequently, there is not ample time to establish paternity.

Solution: Create a task force to reform paternity guidelines. Allow the paternal parent to request a paternity test to establish the biological parent and increase the guideline for paternity testing to 5 years following divorce.



III. Child Support



Child Support Guidelines
Issue: The child support guidelines are required to be reviewed every four years

Solution: Mandate in the State of Michigan that the child support guidelines be reviewed every two years and comply with the established shared economic responsibility guidelines.



Compliance, deviation of child support
Issue: Child support guidelines are inconsistently applied in Michigan counties.

Solution: Provide continuing education to Judges and Referees on the application of the childe support guidelines.



Tax deduction
Issue: Dependent tax deductions favor one parent in joint custody situations

Solution: Allow for the division of dependent income tax deductions.



Arrearage interest charge
Issue: Arrearages are assessed an 8\% interest charge each year, which is greater than most standard credit interest charges.

Solution: Eliminate interest charges on arrearages (or tie it to the prime interest rate).



Child Support Payment Processing
Issue: Child support payment and account history frequently requires people to take off from work to make payments and review account history. Most major private vendors allow for Electronic Funds Transfer of payments, credit cards, and online account review.

Solution: Provide web based access and review of child support accounts, EFT transactions from checking and savings accounts, and credit card processing.





Child support adjustment based on change of circumstances
Issue: FOC offices frequently do not consider change of circumstances in child support adjustments. FOC offices typically will schedule a hearing in 3-5 months. Military personnel do not have ample opportunity to have their situation considered during activation for military service

Solution: Child support tables are online and calculations of child support can be quickly made. Customer service levels need to be established for FOC offices that are consistence with industry retail businesses. Establish penalties for non-compliance.





IV. Visitation/Parenting time



Non compliance with visitation
Issue: Custodial parents frequently interfere with visitation schedules

Solution: When visitation complaints occur, prescribe mandatory parenting plans. Several parenting plan formats have been prepared in other states and are available through the Department of Health and Human Services. Establish penalties (bond), or change of custody criteria when visitation is obstructed.



Parenting plans
Issue: Judges frequently do not prescribe detailed parenting plans and frequently recommend reasonable and liberal visitation.

Solution: Mandate detailed parenting plan in divorce with children with penalties for non-compliance.



Lack of visitation enforcement
Issue: Parenting plans and visitation is not enforced.

Solution: Establish misdemeanor charges and fines for non-compliance with visitation.



Access to medical records
Issue: Michigan medical institutions do not consistently support the release of medical information to non-custodial parents. This frustrates insurance reimbursement and medical payments.

Solution: Mandate that Michigan medical institutions provide medical information to non-custodial parents and unwed parents.



Access to education records
Issue: Michigan schools do not consistently support the release of education and school information to non-custodial parents.

Solution: Mandate that Michigan schools provide report card and parent information to non-custodial parents. Schools should be required to treat both parents equally and allow both parents equal access to attend all school functions.



Drop off points for visitation
Issue: Parents may have conflict during the interchange of children during visitation.

Solution: Specify that Michigan schools be designated as child drop off points.



V. Conflict in Divorce/ Parent Education Programs



Conflict in Divorce/Parental Counseling
Issue: Parents may be in conflict during divorce and are unable to negotiate a settlement in the best interest of the child and the family.

Solution: (1) Provide legislation to authorize judges to mandate parental counseling classes at prescribed centers. (2) Prescribe a standard, mandatory parenting plan as a prerequisite for divorce.



Pre-marriage Counseling
Issue: Parents anticipating marriage are not educated on successful marriages and the consequences of divorce.

Solution: Fund programs to educate parents (faith based and non-faithed based) on successful marriages and consequences of divorce).



Un-wed Parent Counseling
Issue: Unwed parents are not educated on successful marriages, effective parenting and communication skills.

Solution: Fund programs to educate parents (faith based and non-faithed based) on successful marriages.



Post Divorce Counseling
Issue: Parents are frequently in conflict following divorce and are unable to negotiate visitation and financial issues in the best interest of the children and the family.

Solution: (1) Provide legislation to authorize judges to mandate parental counseling classes at prescribed centers. (2) Prescribe a standard, mandatory parenting plan.





VI. State of Michigan FOC and FIA Offices



FOC Customer Service
Issue: FOC customer service is poor and inconsistent and there are inadequate performance metrics for processing payments, answering telephones, and resolving problems. There is frequent finger pointing between different agencies.

Solution: Prepare customer service metrics for FOC offices that are consistent with industry best practices for customer service.



FOC biases
Issue: FOC agents demonstrate bias in their criteria for the fitness of parents.

Solution: Have the SCAO or FIA prepare a standard report card (customer satisfaction survey) that is available at each FOC office. The report card is distributed to the CAC and is used to evaluate FOC employees.



Citizens Advisory Committees (CAC)
Issue: CACs have not been formed in many of the Michigan counties. FOC and court offices do not consistently support CAC activities.

Solution: Authorize funding for the Supreme Court Administrators Office or FIA to prepare a CAC operations guide. Provide funding for office supplies for CAC operations. Issue a notice that FOC offices provide support to CAC operations.



Court appointed psychologists
Issue: Court appointed Psychologist are frequently biased in their evaluation of parental fitness.

Solution: SCAO or FIA prepare a standard report card (customer satisfaction survey) that is available at each FOC office. The report card is distributed to the CAC and is used to evaluate FOC employees.





VII. Judicial Compliance



Judicial Performance Report Survey
Issue: Judges are inconsistent in the application of child support and visitation. Each State County maintains different guidelines.

Solution: (1) Provide continuing education to family court Judges and Referees on child support and visitation guidelines. (2) Prepare more detailed statistics on judicial performance in custody and visitation issues and provide court and Judge performance reports to the SCAO.





VIII. False Allegations



Domestic Violence
Issue: Domestic Violence is frequently used as a false defense to alienate a child from one parent and family to obtain custody and obstruct visitation. Current court rules presume a person is guilty by removing access and visitation.

Solution: Require clear and convincing evidence as the measure for domestic violence. Adjust court rules such that a person is presumed innocent until convicted.



Personal Protection Orders (PPOs)
Issue: PPOs are issued liberally, without evidence, and as a tool to obtain custody

Solution: Develop detailed guidelines for PPOs and require clear and convincing evidence before a PPO is awarded.



Child Abuse, False Allegations
Issue: False allegations of child abuse are a custody tactic to alienate one parent and interfere with visitation and custody.

Solution: Require clear and convincing evidence of child abuse before interfering with visitation and custody awards.



Parental Alienation
Issue: Parents alienate children from one parent by disparaging on parent.

Solution: Recognize parental alienation as an allegation and include in the child custody factors.



Child Sexual Abuse, False Allegations
Issue: False allegations of child sexual abuse are used as a tactic to alienate one parent and interfere with visitation and custody.

Solution: Require clear and convincing evidence of child sexual abuse before interfering with visitation and custody issues.

*A proposed bill already exists in it's entirety, this is a supplement to that bill in an attempt to further explain our cause. We need your support in order to properly educate the public of the injustices and inconsistencies of the Michigan Family Court system.*

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Earline KellerBy:
TelecommunicationsIn:
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Michigan Legislature

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