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What factors are considered when awarding equal parent-time?

Navigating a divorce when there are children involved can be complicated in many ways. Emotionally, financially, and personally, parents need to try to come to a reasonable agreement on custody and parent-time that is also in the best interests of the children.

While the child’s best interests should always be the primary focus, this is not always as easy as it sounds. Unfortunately, some cases are contentious, and parents can be in dispute over the amount of time the child should spend with each parent. In certain cases, a possible and reasonable resolution can be that the parents each have equal parent-time with their children.

However, there are a variety of factors that the court must assess before awarding equal parent-time. Parents seeking equal parent-time should be aware of these criteria from the start.

The court’s key considerations

The most critical aspect of any parent-time agreement is that it must serve the child’s best interests. The court will assess if each parent has taken an active role with the child and if the parents can work together to make the equal parent-time schedule work.

The assessment as to whether the parents are sufficiently involved with the child can include:

  • A demonstrated responsibility in caring for the child;
  • Involvement in child care;
  • Involvement in the child’s school and extracurricular activities;
  • Assistance with homework;
  • Helping with basics such as meals, bathing, and bedtime;
  • The bond between and a parent and the child; and
  • Any other factor the court considers relevant.

The parents must also work together to ensure the arrangement is successful. This can include:

  • Gauging the distance between the parents’ homes;
  • Gauging the distance between each residence and the child’s school;
  • Caring for the child;
  • The parents’ and child’s health;
  • Employment schedules;
  • If a parent can spend time playing with the child;
  • History of flexibility regarding scheduling;
  • Physical facilities of each parent’s residence; and
  • Any other factor the court considers relevant.

Once an equal parent-time schedule is ordered by the court, it must be adhered to. This means the days and nights will be split as evenly as possible, with one parent having the child for 182 overnights and the other for 183 overnights.

With parent-time determinations, professional help may be imperative

There are other aspects of the parent-time agreement that must also be settled, such as holidays, summer vacations, and the way exchanges are made. With any area of family law, the details can become complex and worrisome. Therefore, whether the parents have a cordial relationship or are on difficult terms, it is important to remember that the child’s well-being takes precedence.

For any case involving parent-time, having legal assistance can help protect both the parent and the child. This should be a priority from the outset and may be useful in reaching a satisfactory agreement. To speak with an experienced family law attorney about reaching a parent-time agreement, please call Kristopher K. Greenwood & Associates at 801-475-8800.

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