Common Child Custody Questions

Who will get custody of our child(ren)?
In Minnesota, custody determinations are governed by statutory “best interest” factors. The statute lists the elements and circumstances that the court will consider when awarding a decision regarding custody. There are no set rules regarding automatic custody, but an attorney can inform you about the presumptions and trends regarding custody.

What is legal custody? What is physical custody?
Legal refers to which parent or parents are allowed to make the main decisions regarding the child(ren)’s life. These decisions include those relating to education, religious upbringing and medical treatment. On the other hand, the parent(s) with physical custody hold responsibility to the daily routine, control and care of the children.

What is visitation?
When one parent is awarded sole physical custody of the child, the parent that does not have custody is usually granted “visitation rights,” which are a schedule of times when that parent gets to see their child or children.

When can my child decide which parent to live with?
There is no set age at which your minor child can decide which parent to live with. Instead, the court considers the best interests of the child, regardless of age. As the child grows older and exhibits greater maturity, however, courts often give more consideration to their preferences.

What if we cannot agree on a child custody arrangement?
If you and your ex cannot agree about child custody, then the court will make the decision for you. If you leave it to a judge, you are leaving the outcome to chance, whereas if you negotiate you may be able to obtain a more favorable outcome.

How can I increase my chances at getting a larger custody agreement?
There are four main things that you should do in order to receive a larger share of the custody of your children. First, be the best parent you can be and maintain a close relationship with your child. You want to demonstrate that you are a significant, positive influence in the child’s life. For example, Go to the child’s sporting events, performances, help them with schoolwork and talk to your child. Then, document your involvement. When awarding custody, courts look to what is in the best interests of the child, and you will be in a better position if you have shown a pattern of positive involvement. Second, be the bigger person. Do not badmouth your ex or discourage your children from having a relationship with them (unless there is a history of abuse). Courts tend to favor parents who encourage functional relationships with the other parent. Third, and related to this, keep your cool. Don’t lose your temper around your ex, as a court could hold that against you. Finally, consider hiring an attorney to help you. Unfortunately, with custody disputes, the skills of your lawyer can be just as important as your parenting skills.

What is a parenting plan, and do I need one?
A parenting plan is a written document that details the relationship between parents/guardians and how decisions between those parties will be made in regards to the minor children.

What if my spouse tries to move the kids out state?
Nothing can prevent your ex from moving; however the Court might prevent your ex from taking the children out of the state if they determine that the move is not in the best interests of the child. In order to determine this, the court generally wants to hear evidence about the intended relocation. Evidence that the court will likely wish to hear about includes, but is not limited to, the rationale behind the move, the impact on parenting time for both parents, information regarding employment opportunities for the parent who wishes to move, evidence about the school district the children would be moved to.

If circumstances have changed, how can I get custody of my child?
In Minnesota, you cannot ask the court to change the custody of the child if 1) it has been less than one year since the last order regarding custody or 2) if it has been two years since the last request to change custody. There are three exception to these requirements: 1) if the children are currently in danger 2) if there is a persistent and wilful denial of/interference with parenting time or 3) unless the other party agrees to the custody change in writing. If, however, it has been more than a year since the last order, or more than two years since the last request to change custody, then you are free to file a motion to modify custody. In order to do this, you will need to prove that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that changing the custody arrangement would be in the children’s best interests.

If you have additional child custody questions, please contact us in the contact form above or call 952-856-0003952-856-0003 to connect with an experienced and knowledgeable Minnesota child custody attorney now.

Related Information:

Common Child Custody Questions and Parenting Time Questions

Attorneys Practicing In This Area