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For most families in Minnesota, divorce means shared custody

When a parent considers divorce, they usually understand that their decision affects not only themselves and their spouse but also their children. In fact, many unhappily married couples remain married simply out of concern for how divorce may affect the children.

The truth is that if your marriage is unhappy, your children probably already know. It is often better for children to witness their parents having healthy relationships then to stay in the home with constant fighting and tension.

Concerns about custody are another reason why parents may put off deciding to divorce. There is a persistent urban legend that the courts will probably give custody to one parent or the other. In fact, that outcome is increasingly rare. Court typically prefer shared custody scenarios.

The judge must focus on what the kids need

The guiding principle in custody cases related to Minnesota divorces is always the best interest of the children. The judge will not necessarily consider marital misconduct or the rights of the individual parents. Instead, the focus will be on what will minimize the impact of the divorce on the children in the family.

Unless your family has extreme issues, such as abuse or addiction, shared custody is probably the best outcome for the kids. Children need the love and help of both parents to make it through their childhood and adolescence as best as they can.

Creating custody situations that keep both parents involved is the goal. Unless you have evidence that a shared custody situation would endanger or harm your children, you should prepare yourself for the likely outcome of joint custody.

Shared custody can look different for different families

Just because shared custody is the standard for most families does not mean that each custody outcome is the same. The judge in your case will look at many factors, including the age and needs of the children, the work schedules of the parents and the existing parental bonds in your family. Sometimes, 50/50 shared custody is the best scenario.

Parents may split weeks or alternate weeks with one another. Other times, shared custody may involve one parent having more time with the children than the other. In cases where there is an unequal distribution of parenting time, there will likely also be an order for child support. The parent who has the children less will likely pay support to the parent who has the children more frequently.

There are many different factors that can impact the outcome of your Minnesota child custody case. If you are worried about how shared custody will work in your family, it may be time to sit down with a family law attorney and discuss your situation. Once you have an idea of your legal options, you can start to plan for the future.

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