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Everything You Need to Know About Parenting Time Investigations

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It’s shocking to hear that some 23 million children in the US don’t live with both of their parents. In fact, they live with a sole parent. How much parenting time the other parent gets might depend on a whole host of factors.

Parents who go through divorce or parents with children born while not married must navigate the often tricky waters of deciding how a child will spend their time between parents.

In some cases, the parents can come to an agreement without the courts and attorneys getting involved. 51% of the time parents agree the mother should be the custodial parent.

Yet, often the road to a custody agreement is fraught with disagreement and disputes about where the child should spend their time. How then do those decisions get made? What should you do if you are trying to get more parenting time with your child and the other parent is being uncooperative?

Often a parenting time investigation is needed to help get the parenting time you seek. Read on to learn more about parenting time investigations and how one might help you get more time with your child.

What Is Parenting Time?

Before discussing the parenting time investigation, let’s consider the term parenting time. In most states, parenting time is the legal term used to define how much time each parent gets with their child.

Most people are familiar with the idea of custody arrangements. A custody agreement could be sole physical or joint physical custody. But even if you, as a parent, get joint physical custody, you might still need to haggle over how much time the child spends with each parent.

Parenting time is the actual time a child gets to spend in the care of each parent.

Why Might You Need a Parenting Time Investigation?

Often the discussions to decide on parenting time are filled with emotions of a failed relationship. One parent might be unable to set aside their feelings for the other parent to consider how the child should best spend their time.

It might also be that you are concerned your child is not getting the care or attention they should be getting while in the care of the other parent.

A parenting investigation will look into how one parent is caring for the child. This might help the other parent seek more parenting time with the child.

What Will an Investigator Look at During the Investigation?

Once the court is involved in a child custody case, it might become necessary to seek a parenting time investigation. You might want to show how one parent spends their time with the child. You might also want to establish a pattern of behavior that will not look good in the eyes of the court.

Child custody investigations are often performed by investigators who will gather information about a parent that can be used as evidence with either the Friend of the Court or in front of a judge. The investigator will look for evidence and gather information about how the parent spends time with the child.

Let’s take a closer look at the areas a child custody investigator might look at.


Often a child custody investigator will watch for signs of neglect. This can be tricky to gather when the parent is behind closed doors.

Yet, with surveillance, often the neglect presents itself if there is a pattern of behavior to consider. An investigator can do surveillance, take photos and video that show whether the parent is neglecting the child. Maybe they don’t pay attention to the child or they let the child do things independently that might put them in danger.


Safety is another area that a child custody investigator can look into. Does the parent provide a safe home environment for the child? Is their vehicle safe? Do they practice appropriate safety routines when with the child?

It can be helpful to document when the child appears to get in dangerous situations by one parent because of their carelessness.


A parent may choose to leave a child with other people. They are responsible for leaving the child in the care of a responsible and caring person.

You might you’re concerned about who your child is being left with. This might include babysitters or a new boyfriend or girlfriend. Perhaps your child is being left with another family member who is not providing appropriate care.

As part of a parenting time investigation, these ancillary people who spend time with your child can also be investigated. it is up to the parent to make quality decisions about whose care they leave their child with. The investigator can do:

  • Background checks
  • Criminal history investigation
  • Check for records of child abuse
  • Drug-related offenses
  • Violations like driving while intoxicated
  • Social media investigation

The bad decisions one parent or the people the parent puts the child with can be used in the court case. This could all be gathered as part of the parenting investigation.

Behaviors of Other Parents

As children age and are able to talk, often they tell stories of one parent’s behavior to the other. If you’re concerned about some of the behaviors, you might want a parenting time investigator to check them out.

This might include things like alcohol or drugs, fighting with others, or acting erratically or irresponsibly. Any of these are behaviors that might impact their judgment or ability to properly care for the child.

How Can Parenting Investigation Results be Used?

Parenting time investigations could be used in court or with the Friend of the Court to show how the other parent should have more limited parenting time with the child.

Your attorney can use the information found in the investigation to help prove how you would be a better choice for your child to spend time with.

Understanding the Need for Parenting Time Investigations in Your Custody Dispute

Anyone who is going through the struggles of a custody dispute understands the emotional toll it can take. Getting parenting time for you so you can spend quality time with your child is important.

It might be necessary to have a parenting time investigation done to help you show why you deserve more time with your child.

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David Smith