Child Custody in Minnesota
Determining Child Custody, Changes in Custody

Child custody disputes can be one of the most difficult issues involved in a family law matter. There are many instances of individuals acting out negative emotions connected to a divorce or relationship change through the children. If the negative emotions that are frequently present in a child custody case are not dealt with appropriately they can cause significant harm to the children that are involved. At Priest Law Firm we are aware of the damage that can be caused to children involved in a custody dispute and try to fashion a solution that minimizes the harm that can be caused to the children. If this is an issue that is not agreed upon in your case, it is important to obtain legal advice as soon as possible. It is difficult to change custody once it has been established. By seeking competent legal advice, accessing important resources and knowing your legal rights you will have a much better chance at obtaining the type of custody arrangement that you want.
Types of Child Custody
If there are minor children involved in your case, the court will need to determine custody. Minnesota law splits this issue into two components:

  • Legal custody (responsibility for major decisions involving health, welfare and education); and
  • Physical custody (responsibility for day-to-day care of a child).

Physical and legal custody can be assumed by one parent (sole) or shared in some manner by both parents (joint).

The “Best Interests of the Child”
The guiding principle in child custody cases involves the “best interests of the child.” Here are the factors the courts use in determining what is in a child’s best interests:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody;
  • The reasonable preference of the child as to custody, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;
  • The child’s primary caretaker;
  • The intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child;
  • The interaction and interrelationship of the child with a parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child’s best interests;
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community;
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
  • The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;
  • The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; except that a disability of a proposed custodian or the child shall not be determinative of the custody of the child, unless the proposed custody arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
  • The capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child’s culture and religion or creed, if any;
  • The child’s cultural background;
  • The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse that has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual, whether or not the individual alleged to have committed domestic abuse is or ever was a family or household member of the parent; and
  • The disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.

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