In a perfect world, divorcees in Minnesota would work together to decide where children should live after a divorce becomes final. And while some divorcing couples can temporarily set aside their differences for the greater good of the children, the process is often more complicated.
Divorcing parents who find it difficult to agree on child custody and visitation rights may find the process becomes a bit simpler with the help of attorneys or a mediator. If the parents are still unable to reach an agreement, the decision becomes the jurisdiction of a family court judge.
The two types of child custody recognized by family courts in Minnesota include physical and legal. A parent with physical custody possesses the legal right to decide where a child lives and make decisions regarding the day to day life of the child. A parent with legal custody is entitled to make choices regarding things like education, healthcare, and religious affiliation of the child. Courts possess the power to order parents to share custody responsibilities or can decide it is best for the child that one parent becomes the sole decision-maker.
The first consideration for a judge considering a child custody matter is the best interest of the child. A major factor in making this determination is which parent has been the primary caregiver for the majority of the child’s life. The judge will also allow a child to voice their feelings on the matter if the child is old enough to do so.
Other factors the judge is likely to consider include:
- The relationship between the child and each parent
- The child’s ability to adjust to life changes
- The health of all parties involved
- The home each parent can provide
- The cultural background of both child and parents
- Past history of domestic abuse within the family
Custody cases are complex legal matters, and quality counsel is needed for parents to have a realistic chance at a favorable outcome. A family law attorney is likely the best bet for a parent interested in becoming the custodial parent for their child.