Minnesota allows divorcing parents to create a parenting plan instead of a court-ordered custody and visitation agreement. The court will review the plan to determine that it is in the child’s best interest. 

If you have minor children and are facing divorce, learn about the guidelines for a Minnesota parenting plan. 

Elements of a parenting plan 

State law requires a parenting plan to detail the parental responsibilities for making decisions that affect the child’s well-being, along with a schedule of the time the child will spend with each parent. The plan must also indicate the parents’ chosen dispute resolution method in case disagreements arise. At the parents’ discretion, the plan can also include other information and decisions about raising the child. For example, many parents choose to include expense allocation for the costs of raising the child. 

When parents cannot agree 

When you and your former spouse disagree on the terms of the parenting plan, you can each submit a proposed plan to the court. The court will order an evaluation to determine the arrangement for physical custody and parental decision-making that serves the child’s best interest. Factors reviewed in the best interest standard include:

  • The impact of the proposed plan on the child’s emotional and physical development and well-being 
  • The child’s preference if he or she is old enough and mature enough to express that preference 
  • Any special educational or medical needs of the child 
  • Any history of domestic abuse, child neglect or substance abuse 
  • Both parents’ physical and mental health status 
  • Each parents’ historic involvement in caring for the child 
  • The child’s current adjustment to home, school and community 
  • Each parent’s willingness to avoid conflict and cooperate as co-parents 

Once the court approves a parenting plan, it constitutes a legally binding contract. Making changes to a parenting plan in the future requires a return to court unless both parents agree on the proposed new terms.