Parenting time, or, in other words, the court ordered visitation time a parent gets with a child, is often the most important issue in a dissolution. Generally, the parent who does not have physical custody is awarded parenting time if the court finds it is in child’s best interests. As part of the dissolution process, either the parents will agree to a schedule. Absent an agreement, the Court will dictate the schedule after a trial has been held.
What is the “right” amount of parenting time? The right “type” of parenting time? Minnesota law has a long list of factors the Court must consider in approving the duration and nature of parenting time. Some of these factors include: (a) “a child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs,” (b) “the effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development,” and (c) “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference.”
If the parents cannot agree and a judge must decide, they will base their decision on the evidence and testimony provided at trial, including reports and testimony of experts who have performed an in depth evaluation. . While Minnesota doesn’t currently offer specific guidelines as to parenting time, there are several resources that are widely accepted. One of those is a respected manual entitled, “Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.” Nearly 70 pages long, the manual addresses all kinds of different circumstances which impact a child’s “well-being and development,” including detailed insights concerning, for instance, the role of a child’s age in determining what kind of parenting time is most appropriate. It’s an excellent resource for parents trying to navigate a child’s needs between two households.
Generally, there is no clear “right” or “wrong” answer as to what parenting time should look like for any individual child of any age, leaving a Court to decide based on what is put before it by the parties or their attorneys. With more than 35 years of experience in Minnesota divorce law, Kathleen M. Newman Family Law offers compassionate legal guidance and family law resources, and we can help our clients work constructively to find parenting time schedules which work. To learn more about our legal services, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.
Minn. Stat. Section 518.17.
“Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.” © 2009 Arizona Supreme Court.