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Parenting Time - How to Get what's Best for Your Child?

Parenting time, or, in other words, the court ordered visitation time a parent gets with a child, is often the most important issue in a dissolution. Generally, the parent who does not have physical custody is awarded parenting time if the court finds it is in child’s best interests.   As part of the dissolution process, either the parents will agree to a schedule or, absent an agreement, the Court will dictate the schedule after a trial has been held.

What is the “right” amount of parenting time?  The right “type” of parenting time? Minnesota law has a long list of factors the Court must consider in approving the duration and nature of parenting time.   Some of these factors include: (a) “a child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs,” (b) “the effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development,” and (c) “the reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference.”  

If the parents cannot agree and a judge must decide, the judge will base the decision on the evidence and testimony provided at trial, including reports and testimony of experts who have performed an in-depth evaluation. While Minnesota doesn’t currently offer specific guidelines as to parenting time, there are several resources that are widely accepted. 

One of those is a respected manual entitled, “Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.” Nearly 70 pages long, the manual addresses all types of different circumstances which impact a child’s “well-being and development,” including detailed insights concerning, for instance, the role of a child’s age in determining what kind of parenting time is most appropriate.   It’s an excellent resource for parents trying to navigate a child’s needs between two households.

Generally, there is no clear “right” or “wrong” answer as to what parenting time should look like for any individual child of any age, leaving a Court to decide based on what is put before it by the parties or their attorneys.

With more than 35 years of experience in Minnesota divorce attorney Newman offers compassionate legal guidance and family law resources, and we can help our clients work constructively to find parenting time schedules which work.    To learn more about our legal services, contact our firm to schedule a consultation.


Minn. Stat. Section 518.17.

“Planning for Parenting Time: Arizona’s Guide for Parents Living Apart.”  © 2009 Arizona Supreme Court.

About the Author

With extensive experience in all aspects of marital dissolutions, Kathleen M. Newman has handled many complex divorces, including cases with closely held business interests, professional practices and high net worth cases. Her clients appreciate her listening skills and quick assessment of complex issues. She helps her clients organize a strategy to accomplish their goals in resolving the issues in their divorces.

She can be reached by email at or by phone at 612-305-1400.




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