Family Law | Child Development Affects Minnesota Parenting Time Schedules

Child custody and parenting time arrangements in Minnesota need to take into account child development. An infant may need frequent shorter visits to bond, while an older child may do fine with an every other weekend parenting time arrangement.

Discussing a divorce with a child is one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process. The age and development of the child should inform how you approach the issue. Infants and toddlers for instance are not yet at a stage of development to understand what is happening. Older children may wonder how the change will affect their schedules and school activities.

Tailoring and adjusting parenting time

Filing for divorce or custody in Minnesota involves a 180 day (6 month) residency requirement. Child custody is determined at the time of divorce and includes legal custody and physical custody.

Legal custody describes who makes decisions related to the child's schooling, religion and medical care. In many cases, joint legal custody is common when parents can communicate with each other. Physical custody determines where the child lives. Some Minnesota judges disfavor joint physical custody, for example one week with mother and then one week with father, viewing it as disruptive for children.

In a sole physical custody situation, one parent provides the primary home and the children have visitation with the other parent. The visitation schedule or parenting time plan may change as the child grows up. For instance, infants do not have a long memory and need to see each parent frequently to establish a bond. Two to four hour periods of parenting time several times each week might help with developing a close early relationship.

As children age, some custody situations may no longer fit the needs of the child. Parents who agreed to joint physical custody and every other week custody might find that it causes schooling problems. If the parents live in different districts, it may make more sense to have the child live with the parent in the best school district for the school week.

Using a parenting time consultant is one way to help craft a parenting time schedule that is appropriate for a child. These consultants may also be able to assist with disputes that arise in the future.

Helping a child adjust to divorce

While it may be difficult at times, communicating with the other parent is one way to ease the adjustment for a child. Maintaining similar routines at each home eases the change. Also, maintain similar rules. Be cognizant that some behaviors, such as tantrums, loss of appetite, babyish behavior, often relate to stress as the child adjusts to a new routine.

Divorce and child custody decisions are fraught with emotion. If your relationship has broken down, contact a family law attorney to discuss steps to move forward. A lawyer can advise how state law applies in your situation and advocate for a fair child custody arrangement.