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Serving clients across Minnesota with 9 convenient office locations

Minneapolis
Child Custody Lawyer

Table of Contents

Child custody is one of the most sensitive areas of family law. In Minnesota, child custody laws are based on the best interests of the children.  

Typical concerns from both parents after a divorce or separation include: 

  • Whether Minnesota is the home state 
  • How the Minnesota family court decides custody 
  • Things they should avoid when seeking custody in Minnesota 
  • What makes a parent “palpably unfit” in the eyes of MN family court 
  • Whether a parent with physical custody can move from Minnesota with the child  
  • How the Minnesota family court determines child support 

The Minneapolis family law attorneys at Milavetz Law can provide you with sound legal advice regarding family law and custody issues to ensure that you understand your parental rights — including parent time rights— in the unfortunate case of a contentious custody battle. 

We serve Greater Minnesota and the Twin Cities metro area, including but not limited to Anoka, Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, Carver, Scott and Wright Counties.  

Our Minneapolis and Saint Paul law offices are located within 15 miles of each other. The initial consultation is free, so call us today to learn more about our legal services. 

  • Minneapolis Office: (612) 339-0140 
  • St. Paul Office: (651) 645-7777 

Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

The State of Minnesota grants two types of custody to parents: legal and physical custody. 

Legal Custody 

Parents granted legal custody have decision-making power regarding major decisions in their children’s lives, such as the following: 

  • The location and type of school the child will attend 
  • The type of nonemergency medical care the child will receive 
  • The religious training the child will receive 

Minnesota courts use a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interest of the child unless there is a compelling reason — such as domestic violence — to grant sole custody to one parent. 

Physical Custody 

Physical custody is the determination of which parent the child is with on a day-to-day basis. Although a parent may be awarded sole custody, Minnesota law provides a presumption that joint custody is the best option, with each parent entitled to at least 25 percent of the parenting time.  

The Push for New Child Custody Laws in Minnesota

There has been a push to raise the minimum parenting time presumption to 50 percent. KARE News reported that the state legislature attempted but failed to pass this in 2019 in response to one father’s battle to have his parenting time increased.  

Although the current law allows parents to receive additional parenting time, the burden of proof is on the parent to show that the child’s best interests are served by awarding more than 25 percent of parenting time. 

A Wake Forest University meta-analysis of 60 studies concluded that joint physical custody arrangements, especially with equal parenting time, can result in better outcomes for children however, our Minneapolis child custody attorneys can help your family explore the best solutions for your children. 

How is Minnesota child custody decided?

Custody matters can be the most contentious aspect of a divorce, but the best results are obtained when the parents can reach an agreement before the hearing. If the parents cannot agree, these decisions are left up to the court.  

Best Interest Standard 

The best interest of the child is the standard used to determine custody. The court considers the following twelve factors when deciding custody and parenting time.  

  • The child’s physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs  
  • The child’s special needs 
  • The child’s preferences 
  • The occurrence of domestic abuse in the family 
  • Health issues of the parents, including substance abuse and mental health 
  • Each parent’s past participation in the child’s care and upbringing 
  • Each parent’s willingness to provide for the child’s ongoing needs 
  • The expected effect of any changes to the child’s home, school, or community 
  • The expected effect on the child’s relationships with significant others 
  • The benefits to the child of maximized time with each parent and the detriment of minimized time with either parent 
  • Each parent’s willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent 
  • The willingness of the parents to cooperate in the child’s upbringing 

In Minnesota, the court may appoint a custody evaluator to gather information about the family to make recommendations regarding parenting time and visitation. 

Your child custody lawyer will educate you regarding Minnesota’s twelve factors for child custody and help you to develop your case to improve your chances of being awarded custody. 

At what age can a child make a custody decision in Minnesota? 

The state of Minnesota has not established an exact age at which a child decides, but the child’s preferences are taken into consideration as long as the court deems the child is mature enough to express an independent opinion. The judge may interview the child in chambers with counsel present to help establish the child’s preferences.  

Custody Dispute Resolution

One of the early steps in determining custody is creating a parenting plan. This is a detailed document that shows how custody will be divided, including the following: 

  • A visitation schedule of each parent’s time with the child 
  • Designation of decision-making authority 
  • Custody dispute resolution methods 

A parenting plan can be completed voluntarily or by court order. Ideally, the parents will be able to resolve custody disputes without the court’s intervention. The following methods of dispute resolution are available: 

  • Mediation: the parents come to an agreement with the help of a neutral third party  
  • Parenting Time Expeditor: a neutral person who mediates and arbitrates while a permanent custody order is pending 
  • Guardian Ad Litem: an individual appointed by the court to represent the children’s best interests when there are allegations of abuse and neglect. 
  • Custody Evaluator: a court-appointed individual who evaluates the parents and makes recommendations to the court 

Can the court restrict parenting time?

A parent may receive supervised parenting time or less than 25 percent of the parenting time when convicted of certain violent crimes and in cases of domestic violence, neglect and substance abuse. 

Is Minnesota the parent and child home state?

Federal uniform laws require the parent and child to reside in the state where the action is filed to have lived in that jurisdiction for 180 consecutive days. If the parent has fled a state because of domestic abuse that time period may be shortened for emergency reasons. 

How is child support determined?

The State of Minnesota has established child support guidelines based on income, but individual factors are also considered. These factors include the following: 

  • Number of children 
  • Income of both parents 
  • Costs of raising children 
  • Availability and cost of health insurance 
  • Parenting time 

Child Custody Relocation Laws in Minnesota

Minnesota law prohibits the custodial parent from moving the child’s residence to another state without the other parent’s consent or court order. The court will allow such a move if it determines the move will serve the child’s best interests.  

The court will not grant permission if the purpose is to thwart the other parent’s access to parenting time. Parenting time may be more challenging with a parent living out of state. Our attorneys can help you navigate the child custody laws when parents live in different states. 

Grandparents’ Rights

Minnesota gives grandparents the right to request court-ordered visitation when the parents initiate divorce or separation proceedings, the child has lived with a grant parent for twelve months, or the parent of the child is deceased. The court may grant the request in the following circumstances: 

  • Visitation would serve the best interests of the child 
  • Such visitation would not interfere with the rights of either parent 

How can a Minneapolis child custody law firm help with my case?

Milavetz Law has been helping families in the Minneapolis area navigate complex child custody cases for nearly 60 years, as evidenced by our clients’ heartfelt testimonials. We understand how high the stakes are in family law matters and, thus, the importance of a close and confidential attorney-client relationship. 

Our caring team of attorneys can help your family work through these sensitive and challenging issues. 

As native Minnesotans, we care about the communities we serve. We are proud supporters of many local organizations that serve those in need, including: 

  • Beyond the Yellow Ribbon – an organization that supports military members and their families 
  • Legal Aid – an organization that provides legal assistance to those with low income 
  • STRIVE- an organization establishing mentors for teens struggling in school. 
  • The Diane and Alan Page Foundation provides financial assistance to students of color pursuing post-secondary education. 

With twelve locations throughout the greater Minneapolis–St. Paul area, we can help your family through every stage of the divorce process. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

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