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5 Factors a Court Considers when an Increase in Parenting Time is Sought

Situations arise in which a noncustodial parent desires to increase the amount of time allotted with a child. With this in mind, there are five primary factors that a court is apt to consider when an increase in parenting time is sought by the noncustodial parent. These primary factors are:

  • Amount of time elapsed since parenting time order went into effect
  • Age and school level of child
  • Child's desires (depending on age and maturity level)
  • Residential situation of noncustodial parent
  • History of parenting time between noncustodial parent and child

Over the course of the past generation, a movement occurred in most states in the country to replacing the term "visitation" with "parenting time" in child custody matters. The alteration in the term was not merely a matter of "marketing." Rather, the change happened to underscore that a noncustodial parent should not be relegated to the position of being a mere visitor in the life of a child.

Amount of Time Elapsed Since Parenting Time Order went into Effect

A key consideration facing a court when confronted with a request to increase parenting time is a consideration of how long the existing order has been in place. Many states have laws on the books that dictate the amount of time that needs to elapse before a request to change custody of parenting time will be received by the court. There are exceptions to this timeframe. For example, if some sort of special circumstances exist, an "early" request to change parenting time might be entertained by the court.

Even in states that don't have specific timeframes, a court will want a reasonable amount of time to pass before an increase in parenting time will be considered. This is due largely in part to the recognized value of maintaining stability in a child's life. Recurring changes in parenting time can result in instability in the life of a child.

Age and School Level of Child

The age and school level of a child also comes into play when a desire exists to increase parenting time. There are a number of reasons why this is the case. A prime one is the fact that an older child in a higher grade in school is apt to have a growing number of activities. Increasing parenting time might have the potential of interfering with such activities, which would be something a court would want to consider before extending the amount parenting time in a particular case.

Child's Desires

When a request is made to expand parenting time, the desires of a child may also come into consideration. Depending on the child's age and maturity level, a judge may consider what a young person desires in the way of parenting time expansion. The laws in the various states differ in regard to the input that can be received from a child when parenting time issues are at play.

Residential Situation of Noncustodial Parent

As is the case when establishing parenting time parameters in the first instance, a court considers the residential situation of a noncustodial parent. The question to be answered is whether or not a noncustodial parent's living situation is such that expanded parenting time benefits the best interests of a child.

History of Parenting Time

The court will also examine the actual history of parenting time when asked to increase the amount of time a noncustodial parent spends with a child. For example, if a noncustodial parent has missed visitations with some regularity, this does not bode favorably when that parent seeks more parenting time.

Overarching Issue of What is in the Best Interests of a Child

The factors just discussed truly are crucial considerations of a court when presented with the issue of determining whether the amount of parenting time should be increased. These factors all play into an overarching consideration of what is in the best interests of a child. When it comes to making determinations regarding custody and parenting time, all states require courts to consider what is in the best interests of a child.

In some cases, parents are able to agree to increases in parenting time. When that is not possible, the noncustodial parent who wants to increase parenting time files a motion requesting that a judge order such a change. In such a situation in which an increase of parenting is opposed by the custodial parent, the individual seeking the alteration is well served to consider seriously retaining the services of a skilled, experienced family law lawyer .If you have any questions concerning parenting time, call the Law Offices of Peter Van Aulen at (201) 845-7400.

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