How Is Parenting Time Decided?
Minneapolis, MN family law attorney Laura Sahr Schmit talks about how parenting time is usually decided by the courts.
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Parenting time is governed by Minnesota Statue 518.175. And parenting time is really what is the essence of any child custody matter. Because that’s what parents care about, is, “What schedule do I have?” And there’s numbers of factors that the court will look at with the schedule. They’re called the “best interest of the child” factors. And they will include things like the child’s own emotional health, well-being, how the child has adapted to their environment, how changes in the environment will affect the child.
It can include looking at the parents’ mental health or physical health. And does anything that the parent brings to parenting, will that be affected negatively on the child? The court will also consider a child’s preference, depending on the age. And we go through that through a process called Child Inclusive Mediation. That’s one method. The court never asks a child, “Who do you want to live with?” That just won’t happen. Nor will any custody evaluator or anyone who’s involved with a case.
The schedules that you hear most frequently about are a 5/2/2/5 schedule, which is here. And, basically, the idea behind that is that Mom and Dad will share parenting time, and rotate with Mom having two days, Dad having two days, and then they alternate the weekends. And the benefit for a parent is it’s consistent. They know that, “My day is on a Monday-Tuesday, your day is on Wednesday-Thursday.” This works well if we don’t have issues of domestic abuse, and there are really no extraordinary issues that we’re concerned about. Both parents get along and can cooperate.
Another schedule that has been used – particularly for younger children who can’t handle being away from both parents for a longer period of time – is the 2/2/3 schedule, which means the child is going to see both parents on a more frequent basis. The problem with it, is it’s very confusing for the parents, because they never know, on a given day, when they’re having the children. It’s always changing. But these are the two most common that we see.
There’s been a lot of research done on parenting for young children, and when is the appropriate time for a child to have overnights – let’s say, if they’re under three years old – with the other parent? And the current evidence is that you really look at that individual child and see how resilient they are and how adaptable they are. Because some kids will always be clingy and hesitant to change, others can just dive right in. And instead of having a blanket, “This is when we’re gonna go to overnights,” the trend now is to really have somebody who’s skilled in dealing with young children to evaluate what’s appropriate for them.