Modification of parenting time can mean conditional parenting time or in certain instances, suspension of parenting time. Once a parenting time order is issued, either through a Divorce Decree, a Paternity Order, or a Custody Order, either parent may bring a motion before the court to change the existing parenting time schedule.
This may be because that parent believes that he or she should be entitled to spend more time with their minor child or a change of circumstances has made a change in the parenting time schedule more appropriate.
A court is not prohibited from issuing a modification of parenting time, even without a trial, so long as the change to the schedule is not substantial. However, a parent is entitled to receive at least twenty-five percent of the parenting time for the minor child.
This means that unless the other parent opposes the request for parenting time, and can present evidence that the parenting time is likely to harm the child either physically, emotionally, or developmentally, the court has to consider that the parent requesting parenting time should have at least twenty-five percent of the parenting time for the child.
The court can, and typically will, consider the number of overnights that a child spends with his or her parent as being determinative of the percentage of parenting access/time that a parent will receive. So if a parent is presently spending less than ninety overnights per year with their minor child, and there is no evidence that the child is endangered by spending time with that parent, that parent should consider seeking a modification of parenting time, so that the parent can spend at least ninety overnights a year with his or her child.
The parent requesting modification must show that a change in the parenting time schedule is necessary for the “best interests” of the children. The Court has the authority to modify a parenting time schedule after reviewing the documents and evidence presented by both parties. However, if the parenting time modification would be substantial, the Court must schedule an evidentiary hearing or trial so that both parties can present evidence in the form of witnesses, documents, experts or parenting time evaluations.
Both making the case for and defending against a modification of parenting time can be challenging. With the help of our experienced family law attorneys, you can ensure that the best interests of you and your child are met.