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Child Custody in Minnesota
Divorce, Child Custody & Family Law Lawyers
Types of Child Custody
If you have children that are under 18 years of age and have not graduated from high school, then child custody is an issue that must be resolved in your family law case. Child custody must be determined whether you are married or unmarried. There are two types of custody in Minnesota, legal custody and physical custody.
Legal custody means that you and the other parent must include each other in decisions regarding the child’s upbringing. These decisions include education, health care, and religious training. In Minnesota it is presumed that legal custody should be joint and that you will have the right to participate in these decisions with the other parent. This presumption can be overcome in certain cases and result in you being awarded the right to sole legal custody. If you are awarded sole legal custody, then you are able to make these decisions for your child without the participation of the other parent. In order for a court to award you sole legal custody, there must be an agreement with the other parent or a court decision that this would be in the child’s best interests considering factors such as domestic abuse.
Physical custody relates to the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child. An award of “Joint physical custody” means that you and the other parent share the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child. This can be structured in many different ways and does not require that you have 50% or more parenting time with your child.
If you are awarded “Sole physical custody” of your child, this means the residence of the child is primarily with you. You have the right to control the routine daily care and control of the child subject to any parenting time that is awarded to the other parent. There is no presumption in Minnesota of whether physical custody should be joint or sole.
Determining Child Custody
The first time that child custody is determined in your case, the court is required to make the determination of child custody based upon the best interests of your child. These factors apply to your determination of both legal custody and physical custody. There are 12 factors that make up the best interests standard when making a child custody determination in your case. These factors are set forth in Minnesota Statute Section 518.17.
In determining the best interests of your child, the court is required to consider each of the following factors:
- The child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development
- Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services
- The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference
- Whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred in the parents’ or either parent’s household or relationship; the nature and context of the domestic abuse; and the implications of the domestic abuse for parenting and for the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs
- Any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child’s safety or developmental needs
- The history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child
- The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time
- The effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community
- The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life
- The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent
- Except in cases in which domestic abuse as described in clause (4) has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent
- The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child.
When applying the best interests factors in your case, the court may not use one factor to the exclusion of all others, and the court shall consider that the factors may be interrelated. There is a presumption that both you and the other parent have the capacity to develop and sustain nurturing relationships with your children unless there are substantial reasons to believe otherwise. The court may not consider your conduct if it does not affect your relationship with the child.
Child Custody Disputes
Child custody disputes can be one of the most challenging issues that you face in your family law matter. It is not uncommon for the other parent to act out with negative emotions connected to a divorce or relationship change through the children. If you do not have help in addressing these negative emotions they can cause significant harm to the children and often result in having a court decide what is best for your children instead of you being able to participate in those decisions yourself.
If child custody is an issue that is not agreed upon in your case, it is important that you obtain legal advice as soon as possible. It is very difficult to change custody of your children once it has been established. This is called a modification of custody which has a completely different legal standard that is designed to prevent you from changing the custody of your child unless they are physically or emotionally endangered. If you seek competent legal advice, access important resources for your case and know your legal rights you will have a much better chance at resolving this issue without the need and expense of having a court make a decision for you.
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Eagan Office: 3348 Sherman Ct suite 2, Eagan, MN 55121
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Copyright © 2018 – Priest Law Firm, Ltd
3348 Sherman Ct suite 2, Eagan, MN 55121
19950 Dodd Blvd STE 102, Lakeville, MN 55044 Apt Only