How To Deal With Parenting Time Issues

Custody and parenting time issues commonly arise in the context of either a divorce action or, in the case of unmarried parents, a separate proceeding to establish custody and parenting time. In either scenario, if a court determines (or the parties agree) that one parent will be awarded sole physical custody of a child, issues may arise with respect to how much parenting time the other parent will receive and whether or not any restrictions will be placed on that parenting time.

General Rules of Parenting Time

Best Interests of the Child

The general rule under Minnesota law is that the court must grant the amount of parenting time that will enable a child and parent “to maintain a child to parent relationship that will be in the best interests of the child.” Minn. Stat. 518.175. The “best interest factors” used in child custody determinations are typically a good place to start this analysis (see this article on best interests of the child).

Calculating Parenting Time

In the absence of evidence to the contrary, there is a rebuttable presumption that a parent is entitled to receive at least 25% of the parenting time for the child. In the process of negotiating a parenting time schedule, disputes sometimes arise regarding how to calculate parenting time for purposes of meeting this statutory minimum threshold. The default calculation method set forth in the statute is to simply count the number of overnights the child spends with each parent and allocate the respective percentages. However, this calculation method is not mandatory in situations where the child spends a significant amount of time with the other parent, but does not stay overnight. For example, if one parent routinely has a child for the majority of the day on a Saturday or Sunday and is responsible for the child’s well-being until immediately prior to bedtime, then a strong argument exists that the overnight calculation method is not an accurate reflection of actual parenting time. This is significant because alternative calculation methods can have important ramifications not only for parenting time orders and custodial designations, but also for purposes of calculating the appropriate parenting time adjustment in a child support context.

Additional Parenting Time

Further, Minnesota law allows a court to award additional parenting time to a parent to provide child care while the other parent is working if the proposed arrangement is reasonable and in the best interests of the child. In this event, a court would also consider factors such as the following: whether the parents have the ability to cooperate; which methods are in place for resolving disputes regarding the care of the child (and the parents’ willingness to use those methods); and whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parties. Assuming that the court is satisfied that this type of child care arrangement is in the best interests of the child, an award of additional parenting time under this provision will not only allow a child to spend additional time with a parent, but it will also likely have the additional benefit of saving both parties money in child care costs.

Potential Restrictions on Parenting Time

Despite the foregoing, parents should remain mindful that the aforementioned 25% parenting time threshold is not a guarantee of a minimum amount of parenting time. Indeed, if a court finds that time with a parent is likely to endanger the child’s physical or emotional health, or to impair the child’s emotional development, the court can place restrictions on parenting time with that parent as the circumstances warrant. For example, the court is entitled to place restrictions on parenting time as to time, place, duration and supervision, and the court can also deny parenting time entirely in extreme cases. Moreover, if a domestic abuse Order For Protection is in effect between the parties, and a parent requests that the other parent be restricted to supervised visits, the law requires the court to take the Order For Protection into consideration when making a parenting time decision.

Strong Advocate

When a parent is involved in a contested parenting time or custody issue, it is important to have an advocate who is experienced in this area of the law and who knows how to present as strong of an argument as possible in order to maximize a parent’s potential for spending time with his or her child. Call (612) 466-0010 to speak with an experienced family law attorney.

Leave a Public Comment

  • Keith
    February 23, 2016, 6:43 pm

    I am experiencing post decree difficulties with my ex wife regarding exchange times. We have a designated Parenting Consultant assigned to the case, however she has refused to replinish her portion of the retainer. The PC has sent 2 notices, however she claims she currently does not have funds. The PC has offered payment plans however my ex refuses to respond. We also have a designated mediator and the mediator has sent both parties a list of available mediator times, however my ex has failed to respond. Our case is assigned to a specific judge and I contacted the judge’s court clerk to arrange a motion hearing, however my ex’s attorney has failed to respond if that date well work nor has offered alternative dates.
    What now?????

  • Joe
    October 6, 2015, 10:11 pm

    I have previous domestic violance charge with my former ex wife ans am teying to get parenting time with this new one night stand. Can it be used against me

  • Bonnie Glenzinski
    September 11, 2015, 5:01 pm

    Hi, I am divorced. I have full legal and full physical custody. My ex has court ordered supervised parenting only by a professional Provider who will keep record and report. He is not completed a supervised parenting visit in just over a year now. However he is now threatening that he is going to start showing up at the children’s activities practices sporting games. My question here is, is his appearance at the Activities allowed? It seems to me that his showing up at a soccer practice doesn’t qualify as a supervised parenting visit which is supervised by a professional parenting supervisor and is he violating the custody order which says he has supervised parenting time only? I feel he is at minimum violating the intent of the custody order. I am trying to get clarification on this issue. He seems to think it is his parental right to attend these activities however the custody order restrict s him to supervised parenting only. For a little more history , he has criminal charges for violating a harassment restraining order multiple times, drug and alcohol addictions and mental health issues. Can you please advise? Please respond to me at Thank you. Bonnie

  • Angela
    August 1, 2014, 3:43 am

    I am having a issue with my childs father making false reports to f.o.c about parenting time. We have not gone by the court order in over a year!! I let him take his son all the time. He claims that I refused to let him have his son, he continues to lie. When he does not get his way, he runs to f.o.c to cause problems for me and my family.I filed a grievance with f.o.c and requested a new mediator due to her taking the fathers side and feeding me false information, and my request was denied. I have had to file a p.p.o against the father due to stalking issues. My family and friends have witnessed me letting the child go with the father. Please help, what do I do?

  • nathan
    May 30, 2013, 2:35 pm

    I am having many issues with my EX over parenting time. My daughter goes to school later in the day now gets out of school almost at 4pm when my parenting time starts at 3pm I was wondering is there a way to change this at all. Also last summer lost both weeks of vacation because EX decided that she had other thing going on those weeks. I am afraid same thing is going to happen this year as well. She continues to plan activities on my weekends and tells me about them last minute. The only communication from EX I get is through our 10 year old daughter. Every week is seems she wants to modify parenting time I don’t know what I should do because it’s my daughter asking not my EX even though it’s for my EX’s benefit.

  • Thompson Hall
    January 25, 2013, 2:31 pm


    You bring up two very important and heartbreaking issues.

    First, if you have a valid concern for the safety of our children please seek help from an attorney, court services, domestic abuse office, or the local county social services agency.

    Second, court orders often dictate the parties to attempt, in good faith, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before courts will act. Check your order to see if any method is required. Parents can help their children by not withholding child support or parenting time. Children generally fare best when they have the emotional and financial support and ongoing involvement of both parents. Since you are currently experiencing a serious conflict over parenting time I would recommend you consult a mediator, attorney, or parenting time expeditor. More information can be found at:

  • Gramn Simmonds
    January 21, 2013, 5:46 am

    I have an existing order in place yet my ex-wife has still found ways to use my love for my boys against me. She has begun keeping them from me on my designated weekends using their extra curricular activities against me. I can get them there just as we’ll as she can. I’m also allowed by court order one phone call a week, these I am not getting consistently either and when I do I only get up to 5 minutes at a time. They are not allowed to say I love you when on the phone or they get in trouble which depending on her mood can be serious. It is court record that she made her oldest son lick the toilet seat after he forgot to lift the lid and also that her daughter reported her to DHS for slapping her across the face. I know it is very hard to prove mental abuse but I believe my boys are experiencing it. I can tell they understand what’s going on with their mom but its only a matter of time before they start believing what she tells them. Please help if you can or give me some suggestions on what I have in my power to do without causing any more harm to my boys, thank you!