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  • Writer's pictureScott Berry

What is "Child Custody"?

Minnesota Child Custody

In Minnesota, there are two types of child custody: legal custody and physical custody.

Legal Custody

Legal Custody refers to the right to for making decisions in how to raise your children, including childcare, education, religious training and health care. The Court will presume that joint legal custody is in the best interest of your children, unless there is a finding of domestic abuse.

Joint Legal Custody means that both parents will share the right in responsibility for making major decisions about your children’s upbringing. Whereas, the award of sole legal custody to one parent grants that parent the exclusive right to make major decisions concerning your children’s childcare, education, religious training and health care.

"The Court will presume joint legal custody is in the best interest of your children."

Physical Custody

Physical Custody means that the routine day-to-day decisions and the residence of the child. Unlike Legal Custody, there is no presumption under Minnesota law that physical custody will be shared jointly between the parents.

To determine parenting time and physical custody of your children, the Court will use a “best interests of the child” standard. It is important to understand that when the Court applies this standard that the Court will not consider the disputes between you and the opposing party.

"[T]he Court will not consider the disputes between you and the opposing party" to determine was is in the "best interest" of your child.

Accordingly, the Court will not consider the conduct of a parent that does not affect the parent’s relationship to the child. Rather, the Court will make its determination on what it believes to be in the “best interests” of your children based upon 12 factors provided below. In its decision, the court will consider all of the following factors in its custody and parenting time determination:

(1) a child's physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child's needs and development;

(2) any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services;

(3) 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;

(4) 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;

(5) any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child's safety or developmental needs;

(6) the history and nature of each parent's participation in providing care for the child;

(7) 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;

(8) the effect on the child's well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community;

(9) 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;

(10) 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;

(11) 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; and

(12) 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.

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