When Minnesota parents decide to divorce, they must make important decisions about how they will raise their children and share parenting time. In the mind of many judges, having ample access to both parents is presumed to be in a child’s best interests. This presumption is rebuttable, however, if it can be shown that, for example, one parent has a history of substance abuse or domestic violence.
When divorcing parents work together to create a parenting plan for their children, the result may be better for the family than if a judge is asked to make a child custody determination after weighing all the evidence. Working together to create a parenting plan can reduce the chances that the parents will need to appear later in court to modify a plan that isn’t working.
It is important for parents to consider the best interests of the child when they are creating a parenting plan. For example, parents will need to decide how they will communicate about visitation schedules and school events, where visitation exchanges will take place and how each parent will play a role in the child’s life when the child is with the other parent.
A family law attorney may be able to help a divorcing parent negotiate a favorable agreement with the other parent and his or her attorney. If divorcing parties cannot negotiate a settlement agreement, the case may proceed to a hearing before a judge. Many cases are set for mediation prior to trial to assist the parties in working out a settlement. If the case proceeds to trial, a judge will make a determination about child custody and child support. Many courts will incorporate the court’s standard visitation schedule into a divorce decree when the parents have not jointly agreed on one.