Understanding child custody laws in Minnesota is vital when getting a divorce. Learn more here, then book a consultation with our Minnesota divorce lawyers.
Did you know that over 10% of Minnesotan marriages end in divorce?
Divorce is a difficult time for all involved, especially if you have children. If you’re a parent who’s going through or expecting a divorce, you probably have concerns about how the custody arrangements will pan out.
It’s natural to feel overwhelmed when it comes to child custody laws. We’ve put together this simple guide to help you understand Minnesota child Custody laws and the due process behind them.
Read on to learn more.
Physical Custody vs. Legal Custody
Minnesota law makes a differentiation between physical and legal custody.
According to the legislation, physical custody means routine and daily care for the child’s needs. This could include feeding, bathing, or disciplining the child, as well as other day-to-day care needs.
On the other hand, legal custody is defined as the right to make significant decisions for the child. For example, a parent with legal custody gets to decide which school the child attends, or whether they get vaccinated. As a parent going through a divorce, you should fight for both legal and physical custody if your circumstances allow it.
What Is Joint Physical Custody?
In cases where the child will benefit most from shared contact, joint physical custody is the best solution. This allows both parents physical access to the child on a predetermined and scheduled visitation basis, often leaving legal custody with the primary caregiver.
While joint custody is shared, it isn’t always equal. Joint visitation could mean that one parent sees the child at weekends, or every other weekend, depending on what’s best for the child.
During a divorce, your child comes first. You should only pursue joint physical custody if you truly believe that your child will benefit from seeing both parents.
Securing Physical Custody
As a parent, you deserve physical custody rights when it comes to your children. You need to be there for your child and physical custody guarantees you that right.
Explore your options when it comes to child custody. Our mediation services strive to keep your family unit together while doing what’s best for your child. When you can resolve a Minnesota child custody case informally, you’ll need to settle in court.
Married people should first file for divorce or separation. This will begin divorce proceedings and allow you to petition for physical custody of your child.
If you are already divorced, or weren’t married but established paternity, you can file for child custody in the county where your child lives, or in a county where a court has imposed an order.
In both cases, you’ll need to submit written notice of your petition to the other parent. this gives them time to prepare their custody case and a chance to explain their point of view during the hearing.
At FairWell Family Law Mediation, we’re committed to securing the best outcome for you and your child. Learn more about our mission here.
How Is Custody Decided?
Minnesota courts apply 13 separate criteria to the evidence in a child custody case. Here’s what’s at play:
- The wishes of both parents
- The child’s preference within reasonable bounds
- The child’s primary care provider
- The closeness of each parent’s relationship with the child.
- The impact of relationships the child has with each parent and other close family members like siblings
- Home and school compatibility
- How long the child has been in a stable environment and the value of continuity
- The stability and permanence of the proposed custodial home
- The mental and physical health of both parents
- Each parent’s expression of guidance and education
- The child’s cultural and ethnic background
- The likelihood and effect of domestic abuse on the child regardless of whether abuse has occurred against them in the past
- Each parent’s openness and willingness to allow reasonable contact with the other parent
In cases where parents are seeking joint physical custody rights, the court has 4 more factors that they must take into account:
- Each parent’s willingness to cooperate in child-rearing duties
- Demonstration of conflict resolution methods around major life decisions for the child
- Whether one parent as a sole custodian would damage the child
- History of domestic abuse between the parents
Once the evidence is considered, the judges will make a ruling and issue a written order. The order will grant either sole or joint physical custody of the child. If sole custody is granted, the order will set out citation times for the other parent.
In cases where joint custody is awarded, it will prescribe a schedule of where the child will live, as well as transportation arrangements.
In most cases, parents who don’t win physical custody of their children are still entitled to visitation rights.
With the help of the other parent and your legal team, you’ll create a schedule for visitation which grants you a set amount of visitation per week. if this is agreed upon, the judge will sign an order granting you these rights.
If an agreement cannot be reached, the non-custodial parent will be granted a mandatory 25% allocation of the child’s time. However, this can be blocked if the judge believes it to be in the best interest of the child, for example in cases of abuse.
Understanding Minnesota Child Custody Laws
When you’re going through a divorce or separation, understanding your state’s child custody laws is essential.
Our team of dedicated lawyers can help you get the best outcome for you and your family during this difficult time.
Click here to get started today.