Minneapolis Child Custody Attorney

If there are children involved in your divorce, the court will need to determine the custody rights of each parent. Minnesota law refers to two types of custody, “legal” custody and “physical” custody.

Physical custody is the sort with which most people are familiar, i.e. responsibility for day-to-day care of a child. In most cases, one parent has “sole” physical custody, while the other parent has rights to visitation. In some cases, both parents may share joint physical custody.  In most cases where one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will be required to pay child support.  Child support may sometimes be required even in cases where both parents share joint physical custody.

Legal custody refers to the right to make or participate in major decisions involving the child, such as the child’s health, welfare, religion and education.  Legal custody is usually, but not always, joint.

Determining the Best Interests of the Child

In child custody disputes, the most important concern in the best interest of the children involved.  Minnesota statutes provide that the Court must determine who should have custody based on the “best interests of the child.” In determining the child’s best interests, the court will consider many factors, including:

  • The wishes of the child’s parent or parents as to custody;
  • The reasonable preference of the child, 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;
  • 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 domestic abuse has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual, whether or not the abuser is or ever was a family or household member of the parent; and
  • Except in cases involving domestic abuse, the disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.

The court may not use one factor, such as the “primary caretaker” factor, and ignore all of the others. The court must make detailed findings on each of the factors and explain how the factors led to its conclusions and to the determination of the best interests of the child.

Child Custody Modification

The court will not change an existing child custody order lightly, but it may do so when it is in the best interest of the child and under appropriate circumstances.  Such circumstances may include:

  • Both parties agree to the modification;
  • The child has been integrated into the family of one parent with the consent of the other parent;
  • The child’s present environment endangers the child’s physical or emotional health or impairs the child’s emotional development, and the benefit of changing the order outweighs the harm likely to be caused by a change of environment; or
  • The custodial parent has relocated to another state after the court has already denied that parent’s request to move to another state.

The court may also consider a modification of custody where there has been an unwarranted denial of, or interference with, a duly established parenting time schedule.  There are many factors to consider, and persons considering asking the court to change an existing custody order should consult with an attorney before deciding whether to go forward.

Our Child Custody Lawyers Can Help

If you are currently struggling with a child custody problem, or if you simply want more information, contact Myles A. Schneider & Associates, Ltd. at 763-315-1100 or by e-mail to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys. If you wish, you may dial our family law attorney directly:

Child Custody Lawyers MN

Myles A. Schneider & Associates, Ltd. represent clients from throughout the areas of Minneapolis, St.Paul, MN or anywhere in the whole Twin Cities area – Saint Paul, MN Mpls, Anoka, Apple Valley, Andover, Blaine, Bloomington, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Burnsville, Champlin, Chanhassen, Columbia Heights, Coon Rapids, Cottage Grove, Crystal, Eagan, Eden Prairie, Edina, Excelsior, Falcon Heights, Farmington,  Forest Lake, Fridley, Golden Valley, Hastings, Hopkins, Inver Grove Heights, Lake Elmo, Lakeville, Lino Lakes, Little Canada, Long Lake, Mahtomedi, Maple Grove, Maplewood, Mendota Heights, Minneapolis, Minnetonka, Mounds View, New Hope, North St. Paul, Oakdale, Plymouth, Prior Lake, Richfield, Robbinsdale, Rogers, Rosemount, Roseville, St. Anthony, St. Louis Park, Savage, Shakopee, Shoreview, South St. Paul, Spring Lake Park, Stillwater, Vadnais Heights, West St. Paul, White Bear Lake, and Woodbury, MN – Minnesota.