Courts often act as the legal advocate for children during a divorce proceeding when determining custody. Minnesota courts actually encourage mediation in most divorce cases, especially when there are multiple issues involved in the separation. Child custody is commonly the central concern in these situations. The court will make the final determination based on the material factors of the case, typically siding with the mother unless there are extenuating circumstances. Here are few elements of the child custody issue that judges take into consideration.
A divorce often leaves one or both of the divorcing parents in limbo regarding finances and housing. This is not always the case, but it can still be a primary concern for the court when issuing a custody order. This situation can be even more problematic for the family law judge when the parents live in different states or when one parent is living a long distance from the remainder of the family. As far as children are concerned, the fact that parents are divorced does not end their family relationships. The court will evaluate the stability and the composition of each potential home or living situation and then will typically choose the location that provides the most wholesome environment along with financial support capability as the primary residence.
Most child custody cases will also focus in large part on where the children live during the school year. Minnesota family law statutes require that a child live in a home within state boundaries at least six months prior to a custody assignment, but exceptions can be made in emergency situations. Location can also have an impact on whether one parent is given complete custody and control, joint legal custody, or joint physical custody. In addition, children of a certain age may also indicate to the court which parent they prefer living with and for what reasons. Finally, where the children will be going to school is a common consideration.
It is important for divorcing parents of minor children to understand that divorce cases with child custody issues can be complicated and that the children have legal rights too. It is always best to have experienced legal counsel in a child custody case because contested divorces can easily result in unwanted situations with an unfavorable custody ruling.