Nothing is easy about divorce or family separation. If you have children, the challenges can seem overwhelming.
Minnesota has specific custody laws for children of divorced or separated parents. This is what you should know.
Types of custody
Minnesota law distinguishes between physical and legal custody, where physical custody determines where the children live and legal custody determines who has the authority to make healthcare, education and religious decisions for the children.
Joint custody means that you share these responsibilities. Joint physical custody does not require that you and your former spouse have equal time with your children, but it does require a schedule. Joint legal custody requires that you and your ex agree on major decisions for your children.
Minnesota judges weigh the best interests of the children when they make custody decisions. They understand that your children will benefit best from time with you and your former spouse, and they will try to maximize this time. However, they will evaluate the conflict between you two before making these decisions because conflict can harm children’s mental and emotional health.
Judges seek to determine who can meet all your children’s needs by reviewing your histories and willingness to care for them. They also evaluate how changing schools, neighborhoods and communities may impact your children. Judges also look for substance abuse challenges, neglect and physical, mental and emotional abuse histories.
The family court judge will ultimately create a custody order with a parenting plan that details your time with your children, including who your children live with and transportation solutions.
To get the best result in your custody case, prepare your evidence and work with your former spouse to create a mutually beneficial parenting plan.