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Serving clients across Minnesota with 9 convenient office locations

Child Custody Lawyer

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Divorce is never easy, but when children are involved, the process can be even more complex and emotional. Although both parents want what is best for the children, they may have difficulty agreeing on the children’s living arrangements after the divorce. 

While divorce proceedings revolve primarily around the rights of the parents, child custody is based on the best interests of the children. The Minneapolis family law attorneys at Milavetz Law help parents navigate the family court system.

Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

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

Legal Custody 

Parents awarded 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 a compelling reason to limit one parent’s involvement exists, such as domestic violence.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the determination of which parent the child will reside with. 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, result in better outcomes for children. Our 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:

  • 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

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. 

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 schedule of each parent’s time with the child
  • Designation of decision-making authority
  • Dispute resolution methods

A parenting plan can be completed voluntarily or by court order. Ideally, the parents will be able to resolve disputes about custody 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 
  • Arbitration: the parents present their cases before an arbitrator, who listens to both sides and makes a decision
  • 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
  • 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 and substance abuse.

Does Minnesota favor mothers in child custody cases?

Minnesota does not favor one gender over the other in child custody determinations.

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 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
  • The child has resided with the grandparents for a period of twelve or more months

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. We understand how high the stakes are in these cases, and 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
  • Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, an educational program that advances literacy

With nine 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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