Arin R. Fife Answers:
As with most aspects of divorce, the first step is to attempt to assist the parties in reaching an agreement. This is especially important with all issues dealing with children. It is ideal and will lead to better interactions in the future if parents can reach an agreement on their own. Because of the importance of this issue, a mediator will be used to assist the parents in trying to reach an agreement if they need some extra help.
If parents are unable to reach an agreement, ultimately the decision will lie in the hands of a judge. It is presumed that both parents are fit parents unless it is proven that there is some serious endangerment to a child. When determining parenting time, the judge will look at many factors to determine the best interest of the children. These factors include, among other things: the wishes of both the parents and the children, any prior agreements or conduct of the parents relating to care taking, interaction of the children with parents and siblings, the children’s needs and the distance between the parent’s residences. The judge will take all of the relevant circumstances of each individual case into consideration when making this very important determination.