If a noncustodial parent wants to change the custody of a minor child in Minnesota, there are three ways to do this. The first is by a written agreement between the parties. The written agreement must be submitted to the court for approval and should indicate the reasons for the change of custody so the court can determine whether it is in the minor child’s best interests.
The second way to change custody is when the minor child moves in with the noncustodial parent with the knowledge and approval of the custodial parent. This is called integration. For the child to be integrated, they should live with the noncustodial parent for a significant period of time and be integrated into that household through school, activities and relationships. The exact amount of time required and integration of the child into activities and relationships is up to the discretion of a judge.
The third way is to prove that the minor child is physically or emotionally endangered in the current custodial environment. Proving endangerment is not easy and requires a two step process in the court system. The first step is to make a prima facia case (clear evidence) that the child is endangered in the current custodial environment by a motion. If the noncustodial parent is successful with the preliminary motion, then the court will hold an evidentiary hearing (trial) to determine if a change in custody is in the child’s best interests. Prior to holding the evidentiary hearing the court may assign a Guardian Ad Litem or allow the parties to employ a custody evaluator to investigate the circumstances of the minor child and make recommendations regarding what changes are in the child’s best interests, if any.
This type of court proceeding can be very difficult to be successful at and you should not attempt it on your own. You should hire an experienced family law attorney with significant litigation experience to represent you. Plan on spending a few thousand dollars for this type of motion.
If you need a custody lawyer to answer more questions or represent you in a change of custody matter, contact Priest Law Firm, Ltd. Conveniently located to represent clients in Dakota County and the cities of Eagan and Lakeville Minnesota. Feel free to give us a call today (651) 294-2023