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Parenting Time in Minnesota

If you have children, but you’re not married, or you’re divorcing or legally separating from your spouse (or thinking about doing so), you’ll want to understand how Parenting Time in Minnesota works. After all, a significant part of being a parent means being present, involved, and apart of your child’s life. When parents’ split up and the family’s no longer under one roof, parenting time ensures parents have the opportunity to raise their children.

Parenting Time in Minnesota

In this article, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about parenting time from Minnesota parents. See below for the questions that’ll be covered. In addition, for your convenience the questions will be covered in the following order so you can easily locate the information you desire.  

Frequently Asked Questions about Parenting Time 

  1. What’s Parenting Time in Minnesota?
  2. What’s the Difference between Parenting Time, Visitation, and Custody?
  3. How is Parenting Time calculated?
  4. What’s a Parenting Time Order?
  5. Who can get Parenting Time?
  6. When can I get a Parenting Time Order?
  7. How do I get a Parenting Time Order?
  8. What Happens when Parents Can’t or Don’t Agree on Parenting Time?
  9. How Can I get additional Parenting Time? 
  10. How does Parenting Time Impact Child Support?
  11. What Happens when a Parent is Denied Parenting Time?

What’s Parenting Time in Minnesota?

Parenting Time refers to the time each parent spends with his/her child.

What’s the Difference between Parenting Time, Visitation, and Custody?

The term, Parenting Time often gets confused with the terms: Child Custody and Visitation. However, because of the different legal implications, it’s best to have a clear understanding of these terms.

  • Parenting Time is not Visitation
    In the past, Parenting time in Minnesota was called, Visitation. Therefore, you may be more familiar with the “visitation” term, than the “parenting time” term. However, today, the term, Visitation, legally refers to the time a third party (such as a Grandparent) spends with a child. 
  • Parenting Time is not Custody
    Although custody and parenting time are separate issues in Minnesota, many parents confuse parenting time with custody (in particular, Physical Custody). For example, it’s not uncommon for a parent to believe that “shared custody” or “joint custody” means that the child spends 50% of his/her time with each parent. However, this misconception is detrimental because it could mistakenly lead a parent to agree to less time with his/her child. Therefore, think of parenting time as the amount of time you’re with your kid and child custody as the decision-making rights you have regarding your kid. In addition, read Child Custody in Minnesota before discussing custody with the other parent.
Parenting Time in Minnesota

Pin this image to save this cheat sheet to help you remember the difference between Parenting Time, Visitation and Child Custody in Minnesota.

How is Parenting Time Calculated?

To get even more specific, parenting time in Minnesota is measured, calculated and organized.

  • First, parenting time is measured in Minnesota by the number of overnights a child spends with a parent.*
  • Then, parenting time in Minnesota is calculated to determine the percentage of time each parent has with the child. Parenting time is measured and calculated in Minnesota, because parenting time impacts child support. We’ll talk more about this later in the article.
  • Lastly, parenting time in Minnesota can be organized by creating a Parenting Time Schedule. A parenting time schedule details the specific plan for when the child will be with each parent, such as frequency and duration. In addition, a parenting time schedule maps out holidays and summer vacations, for example.

*Although if the child spends a significant amount of time on separate days with a parent, but doesn’t stay overnight – another method can be used instead. In addition, the age of the child can be used by the court to determine if the parent is with the child for a significant period of time. (Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518.175, Subdivision 1, Paragraph G).

What’s a Parenting Time Order?

If you want to see your child and spend time with him/her, you’ll want to get and have a Parenting Time Order from the court if you’re divorcing, legally separating from, or not married to, the other parent. A Parenting Time Order is a legal and binding document that maps out the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the child. It’s called a Parenting Time Order, because in essence, the court is ordering: 1). Each parent to spend (a certain amount of) time with the child, and that, 2). Neither parent denies or interferes with the other parent’s time with the child. In addition, you can ask for a parenting time schedule to be apart of your parenting time order. 

Who Can Get Parenting Time? 

Although there are other parties who can request parenting time, for simplicity’s sake and the topic of this article, you can request parenting time with your child, if you are:

  1. The biological parent of the child, but were not married to the other parent when the child was born*;
  2. A parent who is legally separating from the child’s other parent, and the child was born during the marriage; or
  3. A parent who is divorcing the child’s other parent, and the child was born during the marriage.

*NOTE: In addition, you’ll have to have a certified copy of the Recognition of Parentage (ROP) signed by both you and the other parent. If you don’t have an ROP, you’ll have to establish an Order for Paternity, before you can request parenting time.

When can I get a Parenting Time Order?

Typically, a parent will ask for a parenting time order when they’re getting a divorce or legally separating from the other parent. In addition, a party may also request parenting time during a child custody and/or child support case. However, please keep in mind, that just because you ask for parenting time, doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get an order for parenting time with the amount that you wanted.  

NOTE: If a parenting time order has already been established (for example, as part of a divorce decree) and a parent wants to change parenting time, then the parent is actually asking for a Parenting Time Modification. It matters whether a parenting time order currently exists because, there are different requirements that need to be met based on whether you’re asking to establish or modify a parenting time order. This article focuses on establishing a parenting time order, not modifying a previous parenting time order.

How Do I Get a Parenting Time Order? 

Typically, during a divorce, legal separation, child support and/or custody proceeding, both parents (regardless of whether they have a divorce or family law attorney) discuss how they’re going to raise their child. Part of this conversation includes discussing how involved each parent is going to be in the child’s life and how much time the child will spend with each parent. Once the parents’ agree on parenting time, they need to request a Parenting Time Order from the court. In addition, to following proper procedures, this requires drafting and submitting the correct documents to a judge. If both parties are represented by counsel, the judge may review and sign off on the order, otherwise the parents will need to attend a court hearing, as well. 

parenting time in minnesota

What Happens when Parents Can’t Decide or Don’t Agree on Parenting Time?

Parenting time schedules during a divorce or custody proceeding can be negotiated or mediated between the parents. If the parents cannot agree on a parenting time, a judge will be forced to decide a parenting time order. Judges generally prefer that parents reach this agreement themselves based on the belief that parents are often in the best position to determine what’s best for their children. The judge is required to decide a parenting time order based on the best interests of the children.

  • In these cases, a judge will often enlist the help of a 3rd party neutral, like a Guardian Ad Litem or a Custody Evaluator, to thoroughly investigate the family situation and provide a recommendation.
  • What’s appropriate for parenting time will depend on the family and the child, particularly his/her age.
  • What’s best for the child will be determined on a case by case basis.  There are 12 factors listed in Minnesota Statutes 518.17 which the court is required to use to make this determination.

How Can I Get Additional Parenting Time?

One way a parent may get additional parenting time with a child is to provide child care while the other parent is working. For example, instead of daycare, a before or after-school program, and/or hiring a babysitter while one parent is working, the other parent would care for the child(ren) during this time. A judge may grant additional parenting time for child care to a parent when the arrangement is reasonable and in the best interests of the child.

In addition to the arrangement being reasonable and in the bests interests of the child, the following factors also impact the court’s decision:

1. The ability of the parents to cooperate;
2. Child care dispute resolution methods, and the parents’ willingness to use those methods; and
3. Whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parties.
(Minnesota Statute 518.175, Subdivision 8).

How Parenting Time affects Child Support in Minnesota 

Since a change in state law in 2007, parenting time in Minnesota has taken center stage in many custody and divorce cases. Parenting time contributes heavily to child support calculations. Therefore, parenting time can become a contentious issue between parents.

In particular, there are 3 “tiers” of parenting time:

Tier 1: Non-custodial parent has less than 10% parenting time.

This parent owes the full amount of basic child support.

Tier 2: Non-custodial parent has between 10 – 45% parenting time.

In this tier, the non-custodial parent gets a 12% deduction in basic support compared to the non-custodial parent with less than 10% time.

Tier 3: Each parent has between 45.1 – 54.9% parenting time.

In this tier, parenting time is presumed equal.

In Minnesota, the child support amount drops significantly going from the 2nd to the 3rd tier. A slight change in the parenting time schedule can result in over a $100,000 difference in child support and thus, why parenting time can be such a significant concern between parents. 

Remedies for Unwarrantedly Denying or Interfering with Parenting Time

In the absence of domestic abuse, in Minnesota, it’s believed that children do best when they have the support and involvement of both parents. Therefore, denying or interfering with court-ordered parenting time in Minnesota can have serious consequences.

Parenting Time in Minnesota

Pin this infographic to reference what can happen if Parenting Time in Minnesota is denied or interfered with by the other parent or you.

If you deny or interfere with parenting time:

1. The court can award compensatory parenting time to the other parent who was deprived of court-ordered parenting time.

If compensatory parenting time is awarded, the additional parenting time must be:

A. At least of the same type and duration as the deprived parenting time (or at the discretion of the court, may be in excess of or of a different type than the deprived parenting time);
B. Taken within 1 year after the deprived parenting time; and
C. At a time acceptable to the parent deprived of the parenting time.

Besides the deprived parent being awarded compensatory parenting time, the court can order additional remedies.

As the parent who failed to comply with the parenting time order, the court can order one or more of the following:

1. Impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for the parent who failed to comply with the parenting time order;
2. Require the party to post a bond with the court for a specified period of time to secure the party’s compliance;
3. Award reasonable attorney’s fees and costs;
4. Require the party to reimburse the other party for costs incurred as a result of violating the order; (and post a bond in favor of the other party in the amount of prepaid expenses associated with upcoming planned parenting time).
5. Award any other remedy that the court finds to be in the best interests of the children involved.
May constitute contempt of court and may be sufficient cause for reversal of custody.

(Minnesota Statute 518.175, Subdivision 6).