Custody & Parenting Time

Custody is perhaps the most widely misunderstood concept in family law, and it is often mistakenly associated with "parenting time," which is the time one or both parents spend with the children. Custody and parenting time, however, are very different from one another. It is important to have a good understanding of the differences between custody and parenting time, so that you can focus your attention on what is important to you, and what is really in the best interests of your children.

Please contact me, attorney Jeffrey L. Loftness, today at 952-641-7485 (local) or 888-553-1258 (toll free) to have your initial questions answered. You may also schedule a free initial consultation by contacting my Shakopee law office online.

Differences Between Child Custody and Parenting Time

There are some important distinctions between child custody and parenting time that are helpful to understand before going through the divorce process:

  • Child Custody: There are two distinct custody labels, each of which must be addressed in every Minnesota case: (1) physical custody; and (2) legal custody. Physical custody is defined as, "the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child." Legal custody is defined as, "the right to determine the child's upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training." Notice that there is no reference to the amount of time a parent spends with children in the definition of either physical custody or legal custody. Each of these custody labels must be designated as either sole to one parent, or shared jointly by both parents.
  • Parenting Time: Parenting time (not to be confused with visitation) is essentially the time allocated for each parent to spend with his or her children. It is scheduled based upon what is in the best interests of the child, which may or may not be in line with what you as a parent would prefer. Many factors are considered before allocating parenting time such as the distance between parents, how much time the child spends at day care, the activities a child is involved in, as well as any other impact a particular schedule might have.

I will take the time to fully understand your situation, your concerns and your goals. My job is to take that information and help you obtain the best possible outcome for you, your children and your future.

How is Custody Determined?

Child custody can be negotiated and agreed to by the parties in a divorce. If no agreement can be reached, then it will be decided by a judge. The judge will carefully analyze at least 13, and up to 17, independent factors to determine what is in a child's best interests. No single factor outweighs any of the other factors. If litigation is necessary, you and I will discuss these factors so you can understand how a judge will likely rule in your case. I will, of course, remain available to answer any questions you might have throughout the proceedings.

Modifications to Custody and Parenting Time

In many cases, the custody arrangement or parenting time schedule may need to change for one reason or another as the children grow older. Parents may change jobs, change residences, remarry, or go through any number of other experiences that could have a direct impact on custody or parenting time. I can help you obtain or prevent modifications to your existing court order, but only if you call me to discuss your situation!

Contact a Shakopee Divorce Lawyer — Free Consultations

I am here to answer your questions and to help you obtain positive results as quickly and cost efficiently as possible. Please schedule your free consultation today by contacting my family law office online or by calling 952-641-7485 (local) or 888-553-1258 (toll free).

I look forward to helping you achieve your goals.