Child Custody And Parenting Time
When parents divorce or unmarried parents separate, the most important legal issues involve the future care and well-being of the children. If you are engaged in a child custody dispute in Minnesota, the family law attorneys at Krueger & Juelich PLLC are here to provide you with the strong advocacy you need. We understand the intricacies of legal custody, physical custody, and parenting plans and strive to develop practical solutions to fit the unique situations of each family. We are committed to protecting the interests of our clients and the best interests of their children. Our child custody attorneys serve clients in Minnetonka and throughout the Twin Cities.
The term “parenting time” is used in Minnesota instead of the term “visitation.” However, you may still hear both terms used interchangeably. Traditionally, visitation was the term used to describe the period of time the noncustodial parent has with the children. Over time, the term parenting time was substituted for visitation and has come to mean the designation of time that each parent has with the children, regardless of the physical custody label.
Parenting time schedules are not one-size-fits-all. Our lawyers carefully consider the following when advocating for you and advising you about what is best for your children:
- Your children’s ages
- Your children’s emotional development
- Your children’s personalities
- Your children’s activities
- The impact of proposed changes to your children’s home, school and community
- The history and nature of each parent’s involvement with caring for and making decisions for your children
- Cultural, spiritual and special needs of your children and any accommodations your children may require to meet those needs
- Your children’s general strengths and weaknesses
- Distance between the parents’ homes
- Whether there is or will be a need to change the schedule over time as the child grows and changes
- Traditions that have been a meaningful part of your children’s lives, especially surrounding holidays
- New traditions that might be established and might become a meaningful part of your children’s lives
- Domestic abuse and other safety concerns
- Chemical and mental health issues that affect the children
- The benefits and detriments to maximizing or limiting parenting time with either parent
- The willingness and ability of the parents to provide care for the children, meet the children’s needs, encourage frequent and continuing contact between the children and the other parent, cooperate in raising the children, and cooperate in resolving disputes
While some parents tend to view the division of parenting time from the perspective of what is “fair” to the parents, we do not believe this is the approach that should be taken. Rather, we believe the objective is to provide the children with a balance of time with each parent that allows strong and stable relationships to continue to grow or to begin developing, and maximizes the quality of life for the children.
An agreement or award of joint physical custody does not mean that there is an automatic equal division of parenting time. Parents may, and oftentimes do, implement equal time-sharing schedules, or “50-50” parenting time schedules, under joint physical custody arrangements.
Equal schedules can take different forms. One parenting schedule that divides time between the parents equally is referred to as a “5-2-2-5” schedule, or by some other variation such as “5-5-2-2,” or “2-5-5-2,” or “2-2-5-5.” Under this type of schedule, one parent typically has parenting time every Monday and Tuesday, the other parent has parenting time every Wednesday and Thursday, and the parents alternate weekends Friday through Sunday overnight. Another equal parenting time schedule is known as a week-on/week-off schedule.
Parents who have joint physical custody of the children may, and oftentimes do, have unequal time-sharing schedules. While the joint custody designation means both parents are actively involved in parenting and are both decision-makers in the children’s day-to-day lives, the day-to-day physical care and control of the children may be divided so that one parent has more of that responsibility even though both parents share in the day-to-day responsibilities. This can be for many different reasons. For example, if one parent frequently travels for work, or if a parent’s work hours include early morning or late night shifts, it might be best for the children to have a schedule that is not exactly equal.
Parenting time schedules can change over time. Certain rules direct when and how a parent may request a parenting time modification. In other instances, the parties may agree or the court may order that at some point in the future, or as a result of some triggering event, the parenting time schedule will automatically change. For example, if a child reaches a certain age, additional overnights may be implemented. Or, if a parent relocates to a certain geographic location closer to the child’s school, there may be an automatic schedule change.
Moves Out Of State
In Minnesota, the parent may not move out of state with a minor child without the consent of the other parent or the permission of the court. Like other custody matters, an out-of-state relocation must be in the best interests of the child to gain the approval of the court. Factors judges consider in move-away disputes include the reason for the relocation and the feasibility of continued access by the noncustodial parent. The burden of proof lies with the custodial parent wishing to move out of state.
Supervised Parenting Time
It is generally presumed that children are best served by maintaining a meaningful relationship with both parents after a divorce or after unmarried parents separate. In some circumstances, courts favor restricted parenting time to protect the child’s safety and well-being. A parent may receive supervised parenting time if there is a history of domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, child abuse, or if the child is not safe in the parent’s care.