In many divorces or custody cases, one parent may be deemed the “custodial” parent and awarded the majority of parenting time. This leaves the other parent with less parenting time with the minor child or children. Sometimes “non-custodial” parents are left feeling despaired due to his/her parenting time being less than the other parent. Luckily, Minnesota law does not prevent a parent from seeking more parent time.
The first question that is raised in modifying parenting time is how much of an increase is the non-custodial parent asking the Court to award? In moving the Court for more parenting time, Minnesota law provides separate legal standards based on whether one parent is looking to “restrict” the other parent’s parenting time.
Minnesota law states that a Court cannot “restrict” a parent’s parenting time unless certain requirements are met such as whether parenting time is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health.
However, as of August 1, 2014, Minnesota Statute § 518.175, subd. 5 now states that “[a] modification of parenting time which increases a parent’s percentage of parenting time to an amount that is between 45.1 to 54.9 percent parenting time is not a restriction of the other parent’s parenting time.” The benefit of this change means that a parent can now ask for more parenting time (even equal parenting time) without showing extraordinary circumstances like endangerment discussed above.
The Court would consider the best interests of the child/children in asking for more parenting time. The Court looks to Minnesota’s best interest factors found here. While the point of this article is not to discuss the best interest factors at length, the Court, in part, will look at the following when you request additional parenting time:
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time;
- The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent; and
- The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child.
The fact remains that increasing your parenting time is not out of reach and the law provides a way for the parent with the least amount of parenting time to gain more time with his/her child or children. It is important to discuss what kind of change you are looking for and the reasons for the change with an attorney. These crucial details can shape the way a parenting time modification should be brought before the Court. The reason behind the change may also bring into question whether a modification in custody designations is appropriate as well.
If you are unsure about how to proceed, or simply have a question, please, contact us today to schedule your free consultation. You can call me at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form.