Minnesota Custody and Parenting Time Schedules
A parenting time schedule (formerly visitation schedule) details when your child will spend time with each parent.
A schedule helps you and the other parent create consistency for your child and make plans without conflict.
When the court makes your schedule official, you and the other parent are obligated to stick to it, except when you agree on minor changes.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and schedules.
How you get a parenting time schedule
If the judge issues a parenting plan order, they always include a schedule.
Even when the judge issues a more basic order for custody and parenting time, they usually include a schedule. If one parent isn't expected to have regular involvement, however, you may have no need for a schedule. (See When you don't receive a schedule below.)
Exactly what your schedule looks like depends on the information you supply.
Many parents write a schedule together and have the court approve it.
Parents who disagree can each present their written ideas to the judge in a trial. After reviewing the separate proposals, the judge may choose one or order another schedule.
How to choose the right schedule for your family
Make sure to choose a schedule that works for your child's age. A younger child often benefits from seeing both parents frequently, while an older child may not need to move around so much.
Keeping siblings on the same parenting schedule can help them maintain relationships with each other. If the siblings have a significant age gap, however, you may want to spend time with each child separately to meet their distinct developmental needs.
You should also keep in mind work and school schedules, the travel time between parents' homes, and your child's preferences.
Be aware that your number of overnights with the child affects your child support payments. The Custody X Change app calculates overnights for you, taking into account holidays and other deviations from the routine.
For more factors to consider, see Minnesota's Child-Focused Parenting Time Guide.
Equal parenting time schedules
Many parents have nearly equal amounts of overnights with their child. (Splitting annual overnights exactly is impossible due to the odd number of days in a year.)
If you want equal time, choose the 50/50 schedule that best serves your family's needs. Here are a few with which judges are familiar.
The 2-2-3 schedule has your child spend two days with you, two days with the other parent, then return to you for three days. The next week, the order switches. This is a good solution for small children, who generally benefit from frequent contact with both parents.
The 2-2-5-5 schedule has your child spend two days with you followed by two days with the other parent, then five days with you followed by five days with the other parent. This schedule can work for older children.
With the alternating weeks schedule, your child lives with you for a week, then the other parent for the next. Sometimes the "off" parent has a midweek visit for a few hours to maintain more consistent contact. Teens are often comfortable with these longer time periods between exchanges.
Unequal parenting time schedules
When parents have unequal time, their schedule often focuses on weekend exchanges, though you can choose exchange days that suit your family.
The alternating weekend schedule has long been common.
Many parents add in a weekly overnight for the parent who sees the child less, which can bring that parent's time to about 30 percent.
If midweek exchanges are inconvenient, one parent may take all the weekends. In the every extended weekend schedule, these are long weekends, and the weekend parent has about 40 percent of parenting time.
If both parents want weekend time with the child, you might try the 4-3 schedule. In it, your child spends four days of the week with one parent and three days with the other parent. You can choose your exchange day, but Saturdays and Sundays are common. This is a 60/40 schedule.
How to write a schedule
Minnesota allows you to describe your schedule in words (narrative format) or place it in a calendar grid (visual format). You can use both methods, as long as your information doesn't contradict itself.
The Custody X Change online app can help you create both a narrative and visual schedule that work together. It enters both into your parenting plan template. It also helps you explore different types of schedules, such as:
- Schedules for summer and other school breaks
- Schedules for holidays and other special occasions
- Vacation schedules
A complete parenting schedule should address all of these situations. You may also want to address time your child regularly spends with other people, like grandparents.
Because your judge has to put a parenting time calculation in your schedule, it's wise to have one in your proposal. This makes your judge's life easier and helps negotiations with the other parent.
Count each parent's overnights — including holidays and vacations — for the next 365 days, then for the 365 days following that. (The Custody X Change overnights calculator can do this for you.) Your judge will take an annual average from the numbers.
The right to see the child
Unless a judge says otherwise, a parent is allowed to see their child even if any of the following is true:
- They are called noncustodial.
- They fail to pay child support.
- They have an addiction, illness or disability.
- They are in jail.
If being with the parent puts the child in danger, the judge can order supervised parenting time.
When one parent repeatedly and intentionally interferes with the other's court-ordered parenting time, the parent who has lost time may file a motion for parenting time assistance. The judge may award them extra time to make up for what they've lost. The parent who interfered may face other penalties like fines and legal fees.
In emergencies, you can involve the police. But remember that police don't want you to call every time the other parent runs behind schedule. If you do have contact with the police, save information about those interactions in case you ever go back to court about your custody order. In extreme cases, it's a crime to deprive a parent of time.
How judges decide parenting time
Judges want your child to have as much time as possible with each parent — as long as it's in the child's best interest.
To decide on an exact schedule, the judge considers many factors, including work schedules. The parents' genders do not matter.
Usually, when both parents want to stay involved in their child's life but disagree how to divide parenting time, a Minnesota judge assigns each parent at least 25 percent of the overnights — even if one parent receives sole physical custody.
The judge may give one parent less than 25 percent of the overnights in unusual cases, e.g., if it's best for the child or the parents live too far apart for frequent exchanges.
The judge may decide to take away parenting time entirely from one parent if the parent does not respond to a served petition or is otherwise absent.
When one parent's time is severely restricted, sometimes one or both parents regret it. Try to anticipate your family's long-term needs to avoid having to modify your court order.
When you don't receive a schedule
In rare cases when the judge orders a basic parenting time order in lieu of a parenting plan, they may give one parent reasonable parenting time. Parents in this situation must work together to arrange parenting time going forward. The parent awarded reasonable time — who usually does not have physical custody — may end up with less than 25 percent of time.
Although the label of reasonable parenting time helps protect the noncustodial parent's right to visit their child without committing to specific days, it can work against that parent. Because the court has no evidence of their activity, the noncustodial parent may owe extra child support — as if they had no parenting time at all.
Many parents prefer a court-ordered schedule to set clear expectations with each other, to equip courts to enforce parenting time and to precisely calculate child support.
If you decide you want a schedule after receiving an order for reasonable time, you can can turn to a parenting time expeditor for a quick decision, which the court will enforce.
The easiest way to make a schedule
If you're like most parents, writing a parenting schedule will feel daunting. How do you write something that meets legal requirements and doesn't leave any loose ends?
Then watch a full description appear in your parenting plan.
Take advantage of Custody X Change to make your parenting schedule as clear and thorough as can be.
Custody X Change is software that creates parenting plans and schedules.