ALLOCATION OF PARENTAL RESPONSIBILITY

FORMERLY KNOWN AS CHILD CUSTODY AND VISITATION

If there are minor children, the Court must make an allocation of parental responsibility for both decision making and parenting time. This was formally known as child custody involving a primary residence, visitation and decision making. The court must make provisions for decision making concerning health care, education, religion and activities for the children. There is no requirement that each parent be awarded decision making authority. Rather, the Court shall consider all factors affecting the best interest of the children in making an award of decision making for the children.

These factors include the following:

  1. the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and independent preferences as to decision making;
  2. the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  3. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  4. the ability of the parents to cooperate to make decisions, or the level of conflict between the parties that may affect their ability to share decision making;
  5. the level of each parent’s participation in past significant decision making with respect to the child;
  6. any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to decision making with respect to the child;
  7. the wishes of the parents;
  8. the child’s needs;
  9. the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  10. whether a restriction on decision making is appropriate under Section 603.10;
  11. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  12. the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child;
  13. the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  14. whether one of the parents is a sex offender, and if so, the exact nature of the offense and what, if any, treatment in which the parent has successfully participated;
  15. and any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant.

Each parent is entitled to reasonable parenting time with the children. This parenting time usually includes time on weekends, holidays, winter, spring and summer breaks from school, and other occasions. The parenting time shall be without restrictions unless the Court determines that the children=s physical or mental health is endangered.

Similarly, the Court shall consider all factors effecting the best interest of the children in making an award of parenting time for the
children.

These factors include the following:

  1. the wishes of each parent seeking parenting time;
  2. the wishes of the child, taking into account the child’s maturity and ability to express reasoned and
  3. independent preferences as to parenting time;
  4. the amount of time each parent spent performing caretaking functions with respect to the child in the 24 months preceding the filing of any petition for allocation of parental responsibilities or, if the child is under 2 years of age, since the child’s birth;
  5. any prior agreement or course of conduct between the parents relating to caretaking functions with respect to the child;
  6. the interaction and interrelationship of the child with his or her parents and siblings and with any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  7. the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  8. the mental and physical health of all individuals involved;
  9. the child’s needs;
  10. the distance between the parents’ residences, the cost and difficulty of transporting the child, each parent’s and the child’s daily schedules, and the ability of the parents to cooperate in the arrangement;
  11. whether a restriction on parenting time is appropriate;
  12. the physical violence or threat of physical violence by the child’s parent directed against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  13. the willingness and ability of each parent to place the needs of the child ahead of his or her own needs;
  14. the willingness and ability of each parent to facilitate and encourage a close and continuing relationship between the other parent and the child;
  15. the occurrence of abuse against the child or other member of the child’s household;
  16. whether one of the parents is a convicted sex offender or lives with a convicted sex offender and, if so, the exact nature of the offense and what if any treatment the offender has successfully participated in; the parties are entitled to a hearing on the issues raised in this paragraph (15);
  17. the terms of a parent’s military familycare plan that a parent must complete before deployment if a parent is a member of the United States Armed Forces who is being deployed; and any other factor that the court expressly finds to be relevant. When addressing either decision making or parenting time, the court does not have to give equal weight to each of these factors, but may choose which factors are most relevant to each individual case.