Determining Parenting Time
The experienced attorneys at Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, can assist you in resolving parenting time issues. The term “parenting time” is used to reflect the schedule the children will follow and which parent they will be with and when. If either parent requests, the court is required to grant parenting time rights to enable the parent and child to maintain a relationship that will be in the best interests of the child. However, if the parenting time is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development the court may limit or eliminate parenting time entirely. For example, parenting time could be limited to supervised parenting time only (either by a third-party or a friend/family member that is agreeable to supervise). The court also has the power to make parenting time contingent upon a parent’s sobriety or compliance with a treatment program or any other factor, which protects the safety and welfare of the minor children.
The court is to establish a specific schedule if requested by either parent. The schedule must address the frequency and duration of parenting time and establish a holiday and vacation schedule. When making a parenting time decision, the court must consider the best interest of the children factors. These are the same twelve factors that the court must consider when making an initial custody decision. Please see the specific factors under our child custody section. Pursuant to Minnesota law, there is a rebuttable presumption that a parent is entitled to receive a minimum of 25 percent of the parenting time for the child. For purposes of this presumption, 25 percent of parenting time is calculated by counting the number of overnights or overnight equivalents a parent has with a child. Overnight equivalents are calculated by using a method other than overnights if a parent has significant time periods on separate days where the child is in their physical custody and under their direct care but the child does not stay overnight. The court may consider the age of the child in determining whether a child is with a parent for a significant period of time. It is very difficult to rebut the presumption that each parent should have at least 25 percent parenting time with the child. If you have questions about this presumption or wonder if you have to follow it when working on your parenting time agreement, contact one of our skilled attorneys today.
Parenting time can be one of the biggest issues in a divorce or paternity case. It is also an area of frequent post-divorce conflict. It is important to consider how disputes about parenting time will be resolved as they arise. A very common arrangement is to provide that parenting time disputes shall be subject to mediation. However, Minnesota law also provides for the appointment of a “Parenting Time Expeditor” to resolve on-going disputes over parenting time. By statute, the Parenting Time Expeditor may interpret the parenting time order and mediate to resolve disputes. By agreement, the Parenting Time Expeditor may be given broader authorities such as the authority to order minor adjustments to the parenting time schedule to address the changing needs of the children or special circumstances. Normally, the cost of the Parenting Time Expeditor’s services are shared equally by the parents unless the parenting time expeditor determines that one parent’s conduct contributed unreasonably to the cost of services. In addition to the Parenting Time Expeditor, parents can agree on the appointment of a Parenting Consultant. Parents who wish to have a Parenting Consultant on their case must contract with a Parenting Consultant and submit an Order to the court that outlines the parents’ agreements for what the scope of the Parenting Consultant’s authority is along with other terms of the Parenting Consultant’s appointment like length of term the Parenting Consultant will serve, duties of the parents when working with the Parenting Consultant, and how the decision making process of the Parenting Consultant will work. A Parenting Consultant’s fees are traditionally shared equally by parents. A Parenting Consultant’s decisions on a matter within their scope of authority to decide are generally binding unless and until a parent asks the District Court to review the Parenting Consultant’s decision and the District Court overturns the decision. More on Parenting Consultants can be found HERE.
Modifying a Parenting Time Order
If the parents are unable to resolve a parenting time dispute or do not have a Parenting Time Expeditor or Parenting Consultant in place to make a decision on the issue, a motion may be filed with the court to modify custody or parenting time. The standard for modifying parenting time in most circumstances is the best interests of the children. The court may not restrict parenting time unless it finds that parenting time is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development or the noncustodial parent has chronically and unreasonably failed to comply with court ordered parenting time. If the custodial parent is alleging that parenting time places the child in danger of harm, the court is to schedule a hearing promptly to determine whether the parenting time order should be modified. If you are thinking about modifying your parenting time order, contact Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC.
Sanctions for Violating a Parenting Time Order
If a parent has been denied parenting time, the court may impose a variety of sanctions:
- Compensatory parenting time of the same type and duration as the deprived parenting time or in excess of or of a different type than the deprived parenting time.
- Civil penalty of up to $500.
- Require the depriving party to post a bond.
- Award attorney fees and costs.
- Require reimbursement of costs incurred for costs incurred as a result of the violation of the order or agreement or decision.
- Any other remedy the court finds to be in the best interests of the child involved.
In egregious cases, the court may reverse custody based upon interference with or chronic denial of parenting time.
For more information contact Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC at 651-771-0050 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.