What you need to know about Parenting Time
Parenting Time Guide
Parents involved in a family law proceeding are required to determine custody and parenting time for their children. Public policy assures minor children frequent and continuing contact with each parent and encourages parents to share in the rights and responsibilities of rearing their children after a legal proceeding when in the best interests of the children. Courts take these policies into account when they are deciding custody and parenting time issues. There is a distinct difference between a custody determination and parenting time.
When custody is established, a court will also decide a parenting time schedule (commonly referred to as visitation or parenting plan) for each parent. Like custody, parenting time is also based on the “best interests of the child.” Common parenting plans include every other Friday to Sunday, Friday to Monday morning, midweek evening visits, extra time in the summer and during holidays, etc. There are many variations, and parents are encouraged to work out a plan that fits their needs and is in the best interests of their children.
Parents and the Court
The court may order parenting time to be supervised in situations where the health, safety or wellbeing of the child is concerned such as when there has been abuse, drug activity, or neglect. “Supervised” means that a designated third party, often a family friend or relative, must be present when a parent visits with the child. The court may also require that a parent receive counseling, take parenting classes, or abstain from drugs or alcohol during visits. Only in extreme circumstances, where there is clear danger to the child, will a court deny a parent parenting time completely.
Either the parents or the court will determine a parenting plan that spells out the minimum amount of time each parent will have with a child. Often before a court will make a decision regarding custody or parenting time, the court requires the parents to try to work out a plan with a neutral third party called a mediator. Then, if the parents cannot agree, the court will decide issues of custody and parenting time. Also, in most cases, both parents will be required to attend a court ordered parenting class before a case involving custody and parenting time will be finalized.
When determining child custody and parenting time, usually the court will also decide issues concerning child support, health insurance for the minor children, and payment for uninsured medical expenses for the children. The specifics of a parenting plan can impact the amount of child support ordered.
A court order for parenting time may be changed later. A parent can ask for a change in a parenting time schedule without having to show a substantial change in circumstances, but he or she would have to show that a different parenting time schedule is in the best interests of the child.
Child custody and parenting time litigation is complex and requires careful consideration of all the factors used by a court to make a child custody determination. The attorneys at McKean Smith have the depth of practice experience and knowledge to successfully represent your interests in a child custody and parenting time proceeding.
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