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Parenting Time (Visitation)

“Parenting time” and “Visitation” mean the same thing.  It is the time a non-custodial parent has with his or her children. “Visitation” is what our statutes used to call that time, and is a term many people still use.  Our statutes now use the term “parenting time,” instead.

A court must grant parenting time rights to enable a non-custodial parent to have a meaningful relationship with his or her kids.  The schedule must serve the child's or children’s best interests.

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.

Establishing a "reasonable" parenting schedule should be a priority for both parents. Both must cooperate and be flexible for the kids’ sake. If the parties can’t agree on a schedule, the court will impose one.

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.

Like residential responsibility, parenting time is modifiable by the parties’ agreement or by court order. Parenting time may be modified when the parties’ or the kids’ circumstances change.