Determining Parenting Time in Minnesota

Parenting time, once referred to as "visitation," is time that a parent spends with their child(ren)

As family law attorneys, we commonly see parents in conflict, sometimes major conflict, when attempting to establish a parenting time schedule. Whether unmarried parents who have separated or married parents who are getting divorced, it is extremely important for both parents to work together to set a parenting time schedule. If you can't do it together, with an attorney or a mediator, a judge will make the decision for you based on the best interests of the child(ren).

 Judges encourage parents to find some common ground in order to agree on when they will each spend time with their child(ren). There is help. Our family lawyers can help recommend a parenting time / visitation schedule, but if you can't agree, the Minnesota Courts have developed a number of programs to help parents reach agreements for custody and parenting time. One of those programs is Mediation and Early Neutral Evaluation.

Visitation Parenting Time Divorce Family Law Minnesota MartinWagnerLaw

Ultimately, if the parents cannot agree, then the Judge will determine when the parents will spend time with their children. Parenting time is not determined based on custody or by who is named as the custodial parent; instead, the Judge decides parenting time based on the "best interests" of the child.

MN Best Interest Standard

It is a common myth that Minnesota will grant a minimum parenting time schedule of every other weekend with or without a mid-week visit but that's NOT TRUE! There is no default parenting time schedule that a Minnesota Judge will use for your case and the Judge is not bound to any particular schedule. Instead, Minnesota law considers the "best interests" of the child when ordering parenting time. The Best Interest Standard is based on 12 different "best interest" factors that the Judge has to weigh when determining what schedule is best for your family including physical, emotional, cultural and other special needs, the history and nature of care, impact on a child of changes to home, school and community, the benefit (or detriment) to a child in either maximizing or limiting time and more. In the end, the "best interests" factors are supposed to maintain a parent-child relationship when parents are separating or divorcing

How Parenting Time is Calculated in MNChild Visitation MN  | Martin Wagner Law

So, how is parenting time calculated, you ask? It depends! 

  • There is no default schedule that Courts impose on families and as a general rule, parenting time is mandatory.
  • Parenting time will not be denied to the parent who does not pay child support.
  • Parenting time may not be denied if the parent has a criminal record; instead, parenting time may be supervised or otherwise restricted to protect the child.
  • In most cases, the law presumes that a parent is entitled to receive at least 25% parenting time with a child. Keep in mind that 25% is only the presumed minimum amount of time that a child should spend with their parent. Judges often award more than 25% parenting time, unless there are significant safety concerns that dissuade the Judge from doing so.
  • Parenting time can be exercised by a variety of different schedules. Some parents exchange their children every other week, every two or three days, every five days, or some parents see their children on the weekends.
  • A number of different things need to be considered when setting a parenting time schedule, such as the distance between the parents and the child's daycare or school, the parents' work schedules, the child's age, development, and needs, along with the child's activities. 

Modifying Parenting Time

MN Family Law - Parenting Time | Martin & WagnerParenting time can be changed or modified in Minnesota, if it is in the child's best interests to do so. For example, a parenting time schedule that worked for the parents and child(ren) before the child was in school may no longer be feasible when the child reaches school age. Or, for example, the parenting time schedule may need to be changed if one parent moves. At any time, a parent can request a Parenting Time Modification, but the Judge will always consider the "best interests" of the child when ordering a schedule.

Martin & Wagner’s Family Law Services

Our divorce and family lawyers understand that family matters, including choices regarding parenting time, and it goes beyond the law affecting you at a very personal and emotional level. Becky MartinMelissa Bakeberg, and Ethne Hedren help guide you through developing a parenting time schedule. Our attorneys are experienced and knowledgeable in all areas of family law including adoptions, child supportparenting timedivorce and separationmediation / FENE / CPENE,post-judgment modification and more! Call us so that we can answer any questions you may have.

Determining Parenting Time MartinWagnerLaw Rogers MN AttorneysSchedule A Free Consultation
Our family law attorneys understand that the amount of time each parent spends with their children is precious, and we work with you to develop a schedule that works for your family. We offer a free ½ hour initial consultation to discuss your parenting time or other family law case.

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