What Happens if My Spouse and I Cannot Come to an Agreement on Parenting Time?

If both parties cannot come to a reasonable agreement regarding the allocation of parenting time and parenting responsibility, the court will establish the parenting plan at its discretion. The Court is primarily concerned that the best interests of the child are addressed and that the emotional trauma the child might be experiencing is minimized. The court may make provisions for parenting time upon the motion of either party or upon its own motion. Additionally, the court may appoint a Child and Family Investigator to investigate the child's best interest and report to the Court, or order mediation to help the parties settle any disputes regarding the child.


Factors Influencing the Courts Determination of Parenting Time

The court will determine parenting time by considering the wishes of both parents and the child, by evaluating the relationship the child has with his/her parents, siblings, and family, and by analyzing the child's ability to adjust to his home and community. Additionally, the court will consider the mental and physical health of both parties and the child, the ability of the parties to encourage emotional support between the child and the other party, and the physical proximity of the parties to each other. Importantly, the court will take previous incidents of domestic violence and child abuse into account. The court will assess previous patterns of involvement of the parties to ensure that the child will have a firm system of values, time commitment and mutual support, and finally the Court will consider the ability of each party to put the child's needs before their own.


Factors Influencing the Court's Allocation of Decision-Making Responsibility

When determining the allocation of decision-making responsibility, the court looks for evidence that both parties can cooperate and make decisions jointly. It considers whether the parties past involvement with the child would indicate an ability as mutual decision makers to provide a positive and nourishing relationship with the child as well as whether mutual decision making will promote more frequent contact between the child and both parties. Finally, the court assesses previous incidents of child abuse and neglect as well as domestic violence. If the court finds that either party has been a perpetrator of either child abuse or domestic violence, then the court may find it in the best interests of the child to not allocate mutual decision making.