Has an ex-spouse interfered with your parenting time schedule?

Divorcing parents often spend a great deal of time, and money, to get a parenting time schedule that promotes their child’s best interests. However, for some parents, the problems do not end there. In some cases, even after the parents have agreed to, or the Court has ordered, a parenting time schedule, one parent refuses to honor that schedule.

Minnesota Statute 518.175 governs parenting time and provides for remedies when a parent is denied Court-ordered parenting time. This Statute has been modified and the new version becomes effective August 1, 2015. This law has undergone some significant modifications which I outline below/

When there has been a repeated and intentional denial of, or interference with, court-ordered parenting time or a repeated and intentional denial of, or interference with, a binding agreement to use, or a decision of, a parenting time expeditor, the court shall order the parent who has interfered to allow compensatory time to the other parent. This compensatory parenting time must be:

  • Of the same type and duration as the deprived parenting time. However, the Court does have discretion to award parenting time in excess or of a different type than the deprived parenting time;
  • Taken within one year after the deprivation of parenting time; and
  • At a time acceptable to the parent deprived of parenting time.

In addition to awarding compensatory parenting time, the court may do any of the following:

  • Impose a civil penalty of up to $500 on the party who denied the parenting time;
  • Require the offending party to post a bond with the court for a specific period of time in order to secure that party’s compliance with the court order;
  • Award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to the party who was denied parenting time;
  • Require the party who violated the parenting time order or the agreement or decision of a parenting time expeditor to reimburse the other party for costs incurred as a result of the violation; or
  • Award any other remedy that is in the child’s best interests.

While these remedies are discretionary (the Court does not have to order them), they become mandatory if the Court makes a second finding (in a subsequent action) that a party has again repeatedly and intentionally denied or interfered with court-ordered parenting time or that a party has, on a second occasion, failed to comply with a binding agreement or decision of a parenting time expeditor.

The revised version of Minnesota Statute 518.175 provides a defense to denial of parenting time. Subdivision (f) states that if a denial of, or interference with, court-ordered parenting time or failure to comply with the binding agreement or decision of a parenting time expeditor is necessary to protect a child’s physical or emotional health, the Court is not required to provide the remedies outline above. If there is a significant concern about a child’s physical or emotional health when they are in the care of the other parent and you are denying the other parent’s parenting time based on that concern, you may wish to consult an attorney about remedies involving modification of custody and/or parenting time.

Parents should be aware that proof of an unwarranted denial of or interference with court-ordered parenting time can constitute contempt of court and could be cause for reversal of custody.

If you, or someone you know, has been denied parenting time and have questions about the remedies available to you, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our Minnesota Child Custody attorneys at 651-647-0087, or reach out via our online contact form. We look forward to hearing from you.

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