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Parenting Time (Visitation) in Minnesota

Minnesota refers to each parent’s time with the children as “Parenting Time” rather than with the outdated term “Visitation.” In Minnesota, there is a presumption a non-custodial parent should have at least 25% of the annual overnights with the children.

Parenting time can be determined one of two ways: 1) by a judge; or 2) by the parties’ agreement. An agreement can be negotiated through attorneys (if both parties have hired one) or through use of a neutral person, such as a mediator.

Minnesota courts today want parenting time orders to include specific and detailed schedules rather than loose references to "reasonable" or "liberal" visitation. A fixed visitation schedule helps avoid future and unforeseen complications.

If parties are unable to agree upon a parenting time schedule through mediation, or their attorneys, the court will establish a parenting schedule based upon the best interests of the children. The “best interests of the child” are articulated through a number of factors, all written into Minnesota law.

Courts can only deny or restrict parenting time if there is persuasive evidence it won’t serve a child’s best interests. If the court finds a sufficient danger or risk exists—for example, the non-custodial parent has committed domestic violence or has active chemical dependency problems—it may restrict parenting time as to the time, place, or duration. It might even require supervision. Only as a last resort will the court deny parenting time entirely.

Common Questions About Minnesota Parenting Time Laws

What is an example of a “boilerplate” schedule the Court may award if my ex-partner and I cannot agree on one?

  • Alternating weekends with the non-primary parent from Friday evening to Sunday evening.
  • One evening visit per week with the non-primary parent (generally not an overnight visit).
  • Alternating holiday schedule including New Year's Day, Easter Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July Weekend, Thanksgiving Day or Weekend, half of the Christmas holiday.
  • Extended Summer Visitation ranging anywhere from one week to six weeks with the non-primary parent.

What solutions are there when parents have conflict when transferring kids back and forth?

There are a number of options to remedy this problem. The easiest solution is to structure a parenting time schedule requiring exchanges to occur at natural transition points during the day, such as having the other parent pick up the children from school or daycare, rather than from your home.  Another option is to use Rainbow Bridge Safe Exchange/Visitation Center, which offers a positive, safe, child-friendly and neutral site where children and parents can be assured a supervised visitation or exchange will be safe and conflict-free. All services provided by Rainbow Bridge are confidential. Rainbow Bridge is located at 715 North 11th Street, Suite 101, in Moorhead, Minnesota. You can reach Rainbow Bridge at (218) 299-7694 or 1 (800) 452-3646, ext. 7694.

Additional Minnesota Parenting Time Questions & Answers

  1. The child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development;
  2. Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services;
  3. 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;
  4. Whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred in the parents’ or either parent’s household or relationship; the nature and context of the domestic abuse; and the implications of the domestic abuse for parenting and for the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs;
  5. Any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child’s safety or developmental needs;
  6. The history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child;
  7. The willingness and ability of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child;
  8. The effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community;
  9. The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life;
  10. The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent;
  11. Except in cases in which domestic abuse as described in clause (4) has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent; and
  12. The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child.
  • Alternating weekends with the non-primary parent from Friday evening to Sunday evening.
  • One evening visit per week with the non-primary parent (generally not an overnight visit).
  • Alternating holiday schedule including New Year's Day, Easter Weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, 4th of July Weekend, Thanksgiving Day or Weekend, half of the Christmas holiday.
  • Extended Summer Visitation ranging anywhere from one week to six weeks with the non-primary parent.

Our office uses special calendaring software. Among other things, this software allows us to print out, in calendar form, every parenting time scheme imaginable. Accordingly, we can now provide our clients a color-coded calendar for the entire year (or beyond) showing when the children will be with each parent. The calendar includes start and end times for regular holiday and summer parenting times. Each parent can simply post the calendar on his or her fridge and both will know exactly when the children will be with mom and when they will be with dad. The calendar can also be used as a journal to record parenting time events, good or bad, as they occur. Our fee for providing this service is quite reasonable.

There are a number of options to remedy this problem. The easiest solution is to structure a parenting time schedule requiring exchanges to occur at natural transition points during the day, such as having the other parent pick up the children from school or daycare, rather than from your home.  Another option is to use Rainbow Bridge Safe Exchange/Visitation Center, which offers a positive, safe, child friendly and neutral site where children and parents can be assured a supervised visitation or exchange will be safe and conflict free. All services provided by Rainbow Bridge are confidential. Rainbow Bridge is located at 715 North 11th Street, Suite 101, in Moorhead, Minnesota. You can reach Rainbow Bridge at (218) 299-7694 or 1 (800) 452-3646, ext. 7694.

Yes!  Court orders can be changed either through a Judge’s order or by the parties’ agreement.  Courts will modify parenting plans if the moving party can demonstrate a change of circumstances since entry of the last order, and if a change is in the child’s best interests.

Most likely, yes!  In Minnesota, a person wrongfully deprived of their parenting time is entitled to “compensatory” (make up) time.  In addition, a parent who wrongfully obstructs the other’s parenting time can be found “in contempt” and be punished for it.  It is very important to document your attempts to exercise your parenting time to prove the denied time (e.g. text messages or emails).

Yes. Sometimes. Both North Dakota and Minnesota allow grandparents to obtain a Court Order allowing reasonable visitation with grandchildren. The grandparents do have a burden of proof, though. The grandparents must prove that visitation (1) will be in the best interests of the children and (2) will not interfere with the relationship between the children and their parents. The Courts generally believe that children benefit from a relationship with extended family members. Accordingly, they are usually receptive to a grandparent's request for visitation.