How changes to the Minnesota parenting time law affects your parenting time

As of May 5th 2014, Minnesota Statute 518.17 subdivision 2 and Statute 518.175 subdivisions 1 and 5 have changed. How will this change in the law potentially affect your parenting time?

The changes in 518.17 subd. 2 make sure to explicitly write that there is no presumption that joint parenting is better than sole custody or vice versa except in cases of domestic abuse. The four relevant factors are kept the same from the old law in determining custody:

  1. The ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their children;
  2. Methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the
    life of the child, and the parents’ willingness to use those methods;
  3. Whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole
    authority over the child’s upbringing; and
  4. Whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.

But now the law adds:

  • That one of these factors cannot be used to exclude the others; and
  • Disagreement over whether there should be joint or sole custody over a child does not constitute for inability to cooperate for factor 1.

The next change comes when there is a disagreement between the parents whether there should be joint or sole custody. The court must determine by looking at the facts what would be in the child’s best interest. This is a change from the previous law wherein the court only had to perform this task if it awarded joint custody.

The changes in 518.175 subd. 1 and 5 allow the court to change the original parenting time agreement. The court is now given the ability when issuing a parental time order to reserve the power to expand the parental time of one parent based on changes in the child’s best interest. The newest factor added to the list that will allow an increase of parental time is the change in developmental needs. For you this might mean that as the child gets older parenting time can change based off of their new needs at that stage in their life.

In the end, only time will tell how the court system will use the changes in this law to change parenting time. At Wermerskirchen & Blomquist, we have been testing this new language in our parenting time modification motions, and have had success both in increasing the amount of parenting time where appropriate, or defending against a motion to advocate that the parenting time order should not be changed.