Modifying Parenting Time in Minnesota

March 15, 2013 - by Eric Anderson

When parties go through a divorce with minor children, the court generally sets out a specific parenting time schedule that governs each parent's time with the children.  Later, it's common for one party to want to change the parenting time schedule for any number of circumstances.  Perhaps the parents have not actually been operating under the original schedule, or maybe reasons for the original schedule no longer make sense.  Maybe there are new safety or other concerns.  If the parents agree on modifying the parenting time schedule going forward, then it is advisable to stipulate to the new arrangement and submit it to the court for the judge's signature.  Otherwise, the new arrangement will not be enforceable if one party later changes their mind.

Unfortunately, parenting time is a common source of post-divorce conflict.  If parents are unable to work out the dispute themselves, they should make sure to check the court's order regarding parenting time.  It's likely that the court ordered the parents to attempt mediation or some other alternative dispute resolution method - in good faith - prior to bringing any court motions.

If alternative dispute resolution is unsuccessful, a parent can bring a Motion to Modify Parenting Time before the court.  Minn. Stat. 518.175, subd. 5 states, "If modification would serve the best interests of the child, the court shall modify the decision-making provisions of a parenting plan or an order granting or denying parenting time, if the modification would not change the child's primary residence."  Therefore, the court will conduct a best-interests analysis to determine if the modification has merit.  If the parenting time change would be so substantial as to change the child's residence or be considered a change of custody, then the court procedures applicable to modification of custody would control.

The court may not restrict parenting time unless it finds that (1) parenting time is likely to endanger the child's physical or emotional health or impair the child's emotional development; or (2) the parent has chronically and unreasonably failed to comply with court-ordered parenting time.  If a parent makes specific allegations that parenting time by the other parent places the parent or child in danger of harm, the court shall hold a hearing at the earliest possible time to determine the need to modify the parenting time order.  

If you have more questions about modifying parenting time related to your particular situation, contact a family law attorney.  

Disclaimer: No case or client-specific information shall be discussed on this website. The content provided is informational only and should not be construed as legal advice. If you have questions about divorce or custody in Minnesota , please seek the advice of an attorney.