In child custody cases where parenting time is awarded to a non-custodial parent, or, in divorce cases where a parenting time schedule is contemplated, it is sometimes necessary to seek restrictions or limits on a parent’s right to parenting time with a minor child. This is usually because of a threat to the minor child’s physical or emotional health based on the conduct of the non-custodial parent. Sometimes a parent’s conduct around his or her children can become harmful to the child. Behavior such as that described in the Harkema decision summarized below included name-calling, unmanageable and erratic behavior, and belittling the children. Courts in Minnesota have the authority to set restrictions on a parent’s time with a minor child if there is a finding that the child will be endangered in the care of the parent.
If a court finds, after a hearing, that parenting time with a parent is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health or impair the child’s emotional development, the court is required to restrict parenting time with that parent as to time, place, duration, or supervision and may deny parenting time entirely, as the circumstances warrant. Minn. Stat. § 518.175 subd. 1(a) (2011).
The party seeking supervised parenting has the burden of showing a significant threat to the child, if the non-custodial parent is to have parenting time restricted. ‘Endangerment’ requires a showing of a significant degree of danger. See Geibe v. Geibe, 571 N.W.2d 774, 778 (Minn. Ct. App. 1997). (citing Harkema v. Harkema, 474 N.W.2d 10, 14 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991) (finding emotional endangerment where stepparent was yelling at children, calling them ‘stupid’ and ‘dumb’, calling the [non-custodial parent] names, throwing things, hitting walls, driving “like a maniac” in the presence of the children)). The degree of endangerment to the minor child must be significant. See Ross v. Ross, 477 N.W.2d 753, 756-57 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991).
There must also be a showing that the parent’s conduct has an actual adverse impact on the minor child. See Dabill v. Dabill, 514 N.W.2d 590, 595-96 (Minn. Ct. App. 1994) (finding no evidence of endangerment sufficient to warrant supervised parenting time in the absence of testimony from the child’s doctor(s)). In the absence of other evidence, there is a rebuttable presumption that a parent is entitled to receive at least twenty-five (25) percent of the parenting time for the child. For purposes of this paragraph, the percentage of parenting time may be determined by calculating the number of overnights that a child spends with a parent or by using a method other than overnights if the parent has significant time periods on separate days when the child is in the parent’s physical custody but does not stay overnight. Minn. Stat. 518.175 subd. 1(e).
If a parent has reason to believe that the other parent’s conduct in the presence of the minor children presents a threat to the child’s safety, then considerable thought should be given to pursing a claim for relief from the threat, whether it mean limiting the time or location of the child’s contact with the source of potential threat, the courts have the authority to limit parenting time, in spite of a presumption that either parent is entitled to a minimum percentage of the parenting time for a minor child.
Please, contact us today to schedule your free consultation. You can call us at 651-647-0087 or reach out via our online contact form.