The biggest concern for many Twin Cities couples going through a divorce is how this change will affect their kids. You know that pursuing divorce is the best choice for you and your children in the long term, but how can you maintain a strong bond with your children when they might spend less time with you than with your ex-spouse?
Research continues to focus on the many benefits kids receive from having a strong emotional connection to both parents. In response, legislators and other family advocates are pushing for family law decisions to recognize a better balance between each parent – especially fathers who have historically received a lower share of parenting time.
Parenting time defined
Though there are many ways to have an active role in a child’s life, parenting time refers to the time that a parent spends physically with the child. Depending on the custody arrangement, your ex-spouse may have residential custody. You would then have parenting time a certain number of days or nights a month where the child stays in your care.
Though previous child custody arrangements used the term “visitation.” most documents now use “parenting time” instead to emphasize that the non-custodial parent still has rights and responsibilities for her or his child. More than just visiting or playing with the child, parenting time refers to the long process of contributing to your child’s growth and development.
A proposed change in Minnesota laws
Currently, couples exploring divorce in Minnesota each receive 25% assumed parenting time and then negotiate the remaining 50% according to the child’s best interest. A recent bill attempted to raise the assumed parenting time for each parent to 50%. Courts would then lower that time in any case where it would not be safe for the child to spend that much time in the care of one parent.
Some people had concerns that this change would put children at risk if the courts did not recognize warning signs of an unfit or abusive parent. Ultimately, the bill did not pass, but efforts continue across the country to help.