What you should know
Parenting Time Decisions
Parenting time (often referred to as visitation) is a legal term referring to the opportunity for the child to spend time with the parent who does not have sole legal custody often called the “non-custodial parent.” Parenting issues come up at the time of divorce or separation. They also come up when two people have been living together, decide to go their separate ways, and need to make decisions when children are involved. During this time period, decisions are made that have a great effect on where the child lives, custodial time, educational choices and more.
Why is Parenting Time Important
A child deserves to have a good relationship with both parents. When parents do not live together, the child should have the opportunity to spend time with each parent.
What parenting time rights does a parent have?
State law entitles a parent to reasonable rights of parenting time to ensure that a child has frequent and continuing contact with the parent. However, parenting time can be limited, or even denied, if the child’s physical, mental, moral or emotional health would be seriously endangered by parenting time with a parent.
How does the court make its decision about parenting time?
If there is a dispute about parenting time, the court sometimes refers the parents to court mediation services. This process gives the parents an opportunity to reach an agreement regarding parenting time and related issues. However, if the parties are unable to agree on parenting time, the court must decide for them. Sometimes the court seeks professional advice to evaluate the family situation or offer an opinion about parenting time. When making its decision, the court will consider many factors, for example, the age and health of the child, the time each parent has available from work or other obligations, the distance between the parents’ homes, the child’s school schedule and the suitability of living conditions in each parent’s home.
What is supervised parenting time?
Sometimes, to prevent harm to a child’s health or emotional development, it is necessary for the court to order that a social service agency or a mental health professional be involved with a family to be sure parenting time (and even custody) orders are followed. In this situation, the court may order the agency or another party to supervise or oversee the parenting time periods. In some cases, the exchange of the child is supervised by a third party to diminish the conflict between the parents to which the child would be exposed without supervised exchanges.
If the parents cannot agree in connection with any or all of these issues at the beginning of the case, one or both parents may file a request with the court for temporary orders. Temporary orders are short-term decisions made by the judge which remain in effect until a final court order is entered in the case. The Preliminary Injunction is the first temporary order issued in a suit for dissolution. In addition, either party may file a petition for temporary orders for child related issues such as child custody, child support and parenting time. If no agreement is reached after proper request is made, a hearing must be requested and held before the court, including witness testimony and presentation of evidence.