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parenting timeWhen a parent thinks of family law issues involving his or her children, he or she often focuses on custody and child support.  But what often gets overlooked is parenting time. Formerly called visitation, Parenting Time refers to the amount of time a parent spends with his or her child regardless of the custody label attached by the court. There are important things all parents should know about their parenting time rights.

One, Minnesota law includes the presumption that a parent is entitled to have at least 25 percent of the parenting time with his or her child.

The percentage of parenting time is calculated based on the number of overnights the child spends with the parent during the calendar year. This means that a parent is entitled to a minimum of 92 overnights with his or her child each year. This amount includes the regular parenting time schedule, plus holidays, breaks from school, and vacations. If the child does not stay with the parent overnight, for example because of the child’s young age, but spends a significant amount of time with the parent during the day, that day also may count towards the 25 percent presumption.

Two, the presumption is rebuttable.

This means that should the court determine that a parenting time amount of less than 25 percent is in the child’s best interests, whether because of the traveling distance between the parents’ homes, safety issues, work schedules, etc., the court may award a parent less than 25 percent of the parenting time. Also, it is important to bring the presumption to the court’s attention, either in writing or at the hearing. Failure to bring up the presumption may prevent a parent from relying on it if there is an appeal. There is also the risk that the judge is unaware of the presumption (it can happen).

Three, under Minnesota law, a parent cannot be denied parenting time with his or her child based on nonpayment of child support.

It is common that a custodial parent will deny parenting time to the other parent if the other parent is behind in child support. But parenting time and child support are two different things. Although there can be serious penalties for nonpayment of child support (such as the loss of a driver’s license or jail time), parenting time rights are not affected by nonpayment of child support.

These are just a few of the things a parent should know about his or her parenting time rights. They also emphasize the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney like the attorneys at Jeddeloh & Snyder PA represent your interests as a parent.

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