CHILD CUSTODY AND PARENTING TIME IN MINNESOTA

Boy with KiteChildren are entitled to a relationship with both parents.  Children love both parents. In any family dispute, think about the children; keep the children playing instead of bringing them into disagreements between the parents.   With the foregoing in mind, you may find it useful to review Minnesota’s mandatory parenting time statute.

A parent’s right to an ongoing relationship via parenting time with his or her children is codified in Minnesota law. Parenting time, as a general rule, is mandatory. Minnesota law provides that:

“In all proceedings for dissolution or legal separation, subsequent to the commencement of the proceeding and continuing thereafter during the minority of the child, the court shall, upon the request of either parent, grant such rights of parenting time on behalf of the child and the non-custodial parent as will enable the child and the non-custodial parent to maintain a child to parent relationship that will be in the best interests of the child….”[ Minn. Stat. Section 518.175, Subd. 19(a)]

The Court, however,  has discretion to order that parenting time is supervised or restricted in some manner, but only after a hearing. The Court must find that parenting time is likely to danger a child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development before the Court can order that parenting time is supervised or restricted.

What is a Usual Parenting Time Schedule?

The usual bare-bones parenting time for a non-custodial parent is every other week-end (Friday through Sunday); one overnight mid-week; shared alternating holidays; and, some extended parenting time in the summer of one or two weeks.   The foregoing assumes that both parents live fairly close together in the same local area.  When parents live in different parts of Minnesota, then a more creative approach is needed.  When one parent resides out-of-state (Minnesota), then the non-custodial’s parenting time is usually the majority of the summer; one-half Christmas break; alternating Thanksgiving; and, all of Spring break.  ( See Blog Post “Custody Laws in Minnesota and Moves Out of State-Look Before You Leap.)

What if you want to modify the parenting time?

A change in parenting time is available when it would be in the children’s best interests.  If the parenting time is a small change ( insubstantial), then the request to the Court doesn’t require a full hearing with evidence and testimony; if, however, the parenting time is substantial so that it seems like a modification of custody, then Minnesota law and hearing procedures for a modification of custody apply.  [Nice-Peterson vs. Nice-Peterson, 310 N.W.2d 471, (Minn.Ct. App. 1981)]

A modification of custody is not easily accomplished.  Be certain that when you enter into any agreements for custody and parenting time  that you know and understand all of the terms and conditions of the labels and how Minnesota law applies.

About Kate Willmore, Esq.

Kate Willmore, Saint Cloud, Minnesota, divorce, custody and family attorney brings over 25 years experience to every client's legal matter. *** Licensed in Minnesota and in California

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