MinnesotaChild Custody Law
Minnesota Child Custody Guide :: Table of Contents
Child custody is defined as the guardianship over a child, which covers both physical custody and legal custody. In a child custody dispute the court may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to a single parent.
Child custody cases in Minnesota can be either contested and resolved by court order, or noncontested and defined in a child custody agreement between the parents. A custody agreement or order will legally determine, at minimum, the following things:
- Where the child lives (physical custody)
- Who is involved in making parenting decisions (legal custody)
- How the visitation schedule with non-custodial parents or relatives is arranged
This page describes how a contested child custody case is handled in the Minnesota court system, and what factors are used to determine which parent gets custody.
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After a breakup or divorce in Minnesota, couples with children must come to a child custody agreement that describes which parent the children will live with, how visitation will be scheduled, and how the non-custodial parent will pay child support.
Some of the factors considered by Minnesota in child custody cases include the child's wishes, willingness of the parent to cooperate with their partner and any history of domestic violence. Minnesota considers joint custody orders to be in the best interests of the child where possible.
What Factors are Considered in a Custody Proceeding?In evaluating the best interests of the child for purposes of determining issues of custody and parenting time, the court must consider and evaluate all relevant factors, including: (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.
If the parents are on amicable terms they may agree to custody terms in a parenting agreement between themselves, or via a mediator. If child custody is disputed, however, they will have to receive a child custody order from a Minnesota judge, who will attempt to make a custody decision that is in the "best interests of the child".
In the state of Minnesota, a number of factors are taken into account by the courts when determining who gets child custody. This section describes Minnesota's custody factors, considerations, and presumptions when evaluating a custody order.
Is there a set list of statutory factors for calculating child custody in the state of Minnesota?
Minnesota has a list of statutory factors that are considered by the court when determining a custody order. This list may include factors such as the child's age, the living situation of each parent, any history of abuse or neglect from either parent, etc. Although there is a statutory list of factors, consider other factors at its discretion depending on the particular circumstances of the case.
Do judges in the state of Minnesota favor joint custody?
Judges in Minnesota are authorized to order either joint or single-parent custody of a child subject to a custody dispute.
Courts in Minnesota are presumed to generally favor custody orders granting joint custody between both the parents where possible. However, the judge will evaluate each case individually when determing whether joint custody is in the best interests of the child.
Do Minnesota courts encourage parents to cooperate together to raise the child?
Minnesota courts favor awarding custody to a cooperative parent who is willing to work together with the other parent regarding child visitation, scheduling, child support, and other co-parenting matters. Minnesota law favors co-parenting as being in the best interests of the child, and the courts will favor a parent willing to cooperate over a parent who attempts to alienate their child from the other parent.
Are the child's wishes considered when determining custody in the state of Minnesota?
In Minnesota, the court does consider the child's reasonable wishes when determining which parent wins custody. The judge may take the child's age, maturity, and judgement into consideration when considering the child's custody preference.
Do Minnesota courts consider domestic violence when determining custody?
Minnesota has laws that explicitly permit the consideration of domestic violence in conjunction with child custody. This may mean that domestic violence is a statutory factor in custody determinations, that the court has a presumption against custody for abusers, or that special procedural considerations are imposed in cases involving domestic violence.
Do the courts in the state of Minnesota have the right to hire an attorney or Guardian Ad Litem to represent the child?
Minnesota has statutory authority for appointment of a guardian ad litem or attorney specifically to represent the child in a custody case. This person advocates for the best interest of the child, and is tasked with investigating the family situation and advising the court what custody situation would be in the best interests of the child.