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Minnesota Child Custody
Child Custody in Minnesota

According to Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 518.17, "[j]oint custody or sole custody may be awarded based on relevant factors pertaining to the best interests of the child."

Minnesota custody laws state that the family courts must consider the best interests of the child, and they must award custody through fair proceedings rather than favoring one form of custody over another.

Minnesota courts encourage divorcing parents to cooperate in raising their child after a divorce. When divorcing parents agree on a parenting plan, the consensus reflects their willingness to continue caring and supporting the child. However, the court steps in to resolve issues of child custody, visitation rights, and child support in cases where the parents fail to agree.

Barred from assigning custody by presumption, the courts consider:

  • the child's wishes or preferences, provided he or she is mature enough to make such declarations;
  • the child's adjustment to his or her home, school, and community;
  • the primary caretaker of the child;
  • the length of time in which the child has lived in a stable and supportive environment and whether or not the parents express willingness to maintain such a constructive environment for the child's welfare;
  • the child's relationship to his parents, siblings, and other members of the family;
  • the relationship between the parents and the child;
  • the mental and physical health of all parties involved in the proceedings;
  • any history of child abuse, domestic violence, or negligence; and
  • the parents' willingness and capacity to provide the child's basic needs such as education, food, clothing, medical care, and religious training

Mandatory Parenting Class

Minnesota courts often require all divorcing parents with minor children to complete a mandatory parenting class before granting a divorce. This requirement is designed to help parents and children deal with the trauma of divorce and separation. Unless the court grants a waiver, both parents must typically complete this requirement. Rather than give up an afternoon or evening taking your course in a crowded classroom, you can fulfill this requirement conveniently online at a very reasonable cost. We recommend you take Children in Between Online" to fulfill your court requirement and for the benefit of your children.

Joint Custody Preference

The Minnesota court presumes that joint legal custody is in the child's best interests. When parents seek joint child custody in Minnesota, the court considers:

  • the parents' ability to communicate with one another in decisions that affect the rearing of the child;
  • whether it would be harmful to the child if one parent has sole decision-making responsibility regarding the rearing of the child;
  • the parents' willingness to employ cooperative, diverse methods when making decisions about the child;
  • and any history of domestic violence between the parents.

Joint custody is desirable since it fosters a continued parent-child relationship as well as shared parental responsibility. However, this form of custody may not always be feasible when the welfare of the child is at risk with one of the parents.

Parental Conduct

In addition to finding a parent unfit because of substance abuse, or abuse or neglect towards a child, the courts also consider the conduct of both parents during the course of the marriage, and the impact of parental behavior on the child.

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