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Custody, Parenting Time & Paternity in Minnesota

Court's rely on 12 Best Interest Factors to make child-centered decisions relating to custody and parenting time. However, this focus does not mitigate the stress client's experience during the process.  


Legal actions relating to your children are difficult and emotional.

This is especially true your children are put at risk as a result of dangerous behaviors by your child's other parent.  There is not one size fits all solution as families are different and require an approach that is unique to you and your children's needs. 


 It is important to find a law firm experienced in implementing resolutions that protect your children's best interests.  Our firm has over 15 years of experience in successfully assisting clients through custody and parenting time litigation.  

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Child Custody


When clients speak of "child custody" what they are typically referring to is "parenting time" or visitation, which is the amount of actual time the parent spends with their children. Whereas "child custody" is the ability to make decisions on behalf of your children. 


Legal Custody refers to the right to for making decisions in how to raise your children, including childcare, education, religious training, and health care.  Physical Custody means the ability to schedule appointments or other events for the child, whether or not it is during the other parent's parenting time.  


No matter how you refer to the actual designation, child custody and parenting time are the most common disputes in family court. Parents are extremely concerned with the safety, education, and overall well-being of their children. Many times custody and parenting time decisions become even more difficult following a breakup, as parents tend to be distrustful of whether the other parent is best capable of attending to the well-being of their children.


Judges will always make custody and parenting time decisions based upon the "best interest of the child." In Minnesota, the best interest standard is based upon the court's examination of 12 statutory factors. Check out our video series for a more in-depth discussion about Minnesota's Best Interest Factors. 


Our experienced team of child custody attorneys know how contentious child custody and parenting time cases can be. We have the experience to fight for you and your children to work to secure the most appropriate outcome. 



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What is "Paternity?"

Under Minnesota law, "Paternity" is the term used to refer to the "legal" father of a child. When a man is established as a child's legal father, he has a financial obligation to support the child.  This means that the father can be ordered to pay child support.


In Minnesota, if a child's mom and dad are not married to each other at the child's birth, the dad is not recognized as the "legal" father of the child until someone (mom, dad, or the county in some cases) takes legal steps to establish his paternity.


How can a dad become the "legal" father of a child if he is not married to the mother?

If a child's parents are not married at the time of the child's birth, dad can become the child's "legal" father through the"Recognition of Parentage" (ROP) process or by Court Order.


However, whether or not the child's parents sign a ROP, a father does not have any custody rights or rights to any parenting time until a court issues a custody order. Until a court order is entered, the child's mother has sole legal and sole physical custody rights to the child, even if the father's name appears on the birth certificate.  


On the other hand, if the mother and father are married at the time of the child's birth, the husband is presumed to the father of the child and has both legal and physical custody rights to the child and is automatically legally and financially responsible for the child. This is the case even if mom had the child by someone other than her husband. The husband's legal and financial responsibility will continue until the biological father is identified as the child's father by a court order. 

Genetic Testing

Unless both parties agree to genetic testing to determine who the biological father is of the child, genetic testing can only be performed after a court order is issued.


To obtain a court order, a mother or alleged father must file an affidavit (sworn statement) providing the detailed factual basis for the requested genetic testing.  The affidavit must provide detailed facts that demonstrate that there is a reasonable possibility that there was (or was not) sufficient sexual contact between the alleged father and the child's mother to conceive a child.

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