Parenting Time

Minnesota law gives every parent the right to see and spend time with his or her children. Sometimes parents have difficulty arranging when the parents are going to have time with their children during the school year and during summer break. Holidays can be particularly difficult. As children grow older, the parenting time parents created no longer works so it may need to be changed.

Common questions about parenting time

Why does a judge modify a parenting time schedule?

In Minnesota, a judge modifies or changes a parenting time schedule when he or she believes doing so is in a child’s best interests. Often parents themselves agree to change a parenting time schedule because they came to a new agreement in mediation either because the children’s age and needs require it or the current schedule no longer works well because one of the parents has moved either closer to or further away from the children.

In other instances, one or both of the parents filed a Motion to Modify Parenting Time and the judge ordered a change to the schedule. Now the parents leave it in the hands of the judge to order if or how a parenting time schedule ought to change. Whatever the judge orders, the parents have to follow even if the new schedule works poorly.

What are parenting time guidelines?

The easiest answer to this question is this – the guidelines are what the parents agree for them to be. The best parenting time schedule is the one created by both parents whether through their own negotiation or during a mediation because they are the only ones who truly know their children’s needs. Parents who leave this issue in the hands of a judge will have a complete stranger making very sensitive and life-changing decisions.

Parenting time guidelines include determining the parenting time schedule during the school year, summer break, holidays, and vacations. Logistics of when and where the parents pick up and drop off the children may need to be spelled out. New significant others with no concerning history usually are not limited from having contact and time with the children or even assisting with pick-ups and drop-offs.

Supervised parenting time could become a necessity if a parent has untreated physical or mental health issues or is violent.

Is it easy to change parenting time in Minnesota?

The truest answer to this question is “maybe”. It is quite simple to change parenting time when parents reach their own agreement, whether on their own or through mediation. All that is left to do is to put the new agreement on paper in a way for a judge to sign an Order making the new parenting time schedule enforceable. 

In situations where the parents cannot agree if the parenting time schedule should change or what the changes ought to be, the answer to the question gets murky. Even though it may not be court-ordered, judges expect parents to attend mediation first before addressing possible parenting time schedule modifications in a courtroom. Judges do not want parents depending on them to decide what schedule is best for the children; they want the parents to try for a resolution first.

At what age can a child refuse to see a parent?

There is no set age in Minnesota when a child chooses to not see a parent. Parenting time is determined by the best interests of a child which is measured by twelve separate factors. One of the twelve factors is the reasonable preference of a child depending upon his or her age and maturity. Judges begin being less stringent about children following a parenting time schedule when they are able to drive seeing that older teenagers rather be with friends or out having fun than being with either one of their parents.

Are unmarried fathers guaranteed parenting time in Minnesota?

That depends on paternity. Read more about paternity testing and the laws in Minnesota.

If you need to talk to an attorney about parenting time, please schedule an initial consultation appointment online and fill out the Consultation Intake Form to talk to Jessica Sterle. She can help you navigate seeing your child in Minnesota.