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.
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.
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.
So, how is parenting time calculated, you ask? It depends!
Parenting 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.
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 Martin, Melissa 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 support, parenting time, divorce and separation, mediation / FENE / CPENE,post-judgment modification and more! Call us so that we can answer any questions you may have.
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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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