Our child custody lawyer in Minnesota answers frequently asked questions that we receive from new clients. We understand why there are so many questions, too, because there's a lot of misinformation about child custody. Plus, each state law varies significantly or subtly on child custody. We are here to dispel the misinformation, clarify misunderstandings, and provide the right information so you can make smart, informed decisions about your child and your unique situation.
If you still have questions or want more specific information about your child custody matter, contact Heritage Law Office today either by using our online form or calling us directly at 414-253-8500.
What is the most common child custody arrangement in Minnesota?
Child custody arrangements vary from family to family and state to state. There are several arrangements that are more popular than others, including legal custody, physical custody, sole custody, joint legal custody, and sole legal custody. Of these, joint legal custody is the most common custody arrangement. This is where both parents are involved in the decisions regarding how their child is raised.
If we were never married, do I still need a custody order in Minnesota?
The answer to this question depends on your end goal. If you are seeking to establish any rights to the child, including custody, visitation, or child support, paternity does need to be confirmed. Most states hold that when a child is born out of wedlock, the mother has sole custody unless a court has held otherwise in an order.
How is child custody determined in Minnesota?
In most states and most situations, when the parents of a child are able to agree on a child custody arrangement, the court will issue an order that confirms the terms of the agreement. When the parties are unable to reach an agreement on their own, they may have to attend mediation or arbitration to see if that helps. When all else fails, the court will hear the matter and issue an order the parties must abide by. The court will consider testimony, the report of a court-appointed guardian that is looking out for the best interest of the child, and other evidence when deciding child custody. The best interest of the child is always the criteria the court uses in these decisions.
What's the difference between legal and physical custody?
When a parent has physical custody, they actually have the physical child placed with them. This is the parent that lives with the child and takes care of their everyday needs. One parent may have primary physical custody while the other has secondary physical custody.
A parent who has legal custody is the one allowed to make important decisions about the child, including decisions regarding the child's medical care, education, and religious upbringing. Joint legal custody may be awarded to both parents so that they both have input in making these important decisions for their child.
Does custody primarily go to one parent in Minnesota?
This is an incorrect assumption many people make. The answer is “no.” The truth is that courts often award other types of custody arrangements, such as joint physical custody, joint legal custody, or a combination of both. Some states do require a primary custodian, though, but that does not mean one parent gets full custody.
The courts always consider the evidence and the best interest of the child to be of paramount concern.
Do I need a child custody lawyer in Minnesota?
It's really up to you if you want a child custody lawyer. As for needing one, that depends on what is meant by that. Child custody laws are nuanced yet stringent. Mistakes are not affordable because the custody of your child is at stake.
In many cases, parents mutually agree on child custody arrangements, and so that makes the matter easier. In some of those cases, though, a parent may have felt compelled to agree, and so having a family law attorney advise you on what's fair (or not) is beneficial. In contentious situations, a child custody lawyer is highly recommended. It takes skills, knowledge, and a lot of perseverance to make sure the child custody arrangement approved or ordered by the court is fair and just and reflects what you had anticipated.
Contact a Child Custody Lawyer in Minnesota Today
If you need help with a child custody case, contact Heritage Law Office. Our child custody attorney in Minnesota will advise you of your rights and guide you through the process. Contact us online through our online form or at 414-253-8500 to schedule a free consultation.
Additional Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. What Is the Role of Mediation in Minnesota Child Custody Cases?
Mediation is often employed in Minnesota to resolve child custody issues when parents can't agree on arrangements. This process involves a neutral third-party mediator who helps both parties communicate effectively and reach a mutually beneficial agreement. Mediation aims to keep cases out of court and foster a cooperative environment for co-parenting.
2. What Factors Does a Minnesota Court Consider for Child Custody Decisions?
Minnesota courts evaluate various factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child. These factors may include the emotional ties between the child and each parent, the child's age and physical, emotional, and mental needs, as well as any history of domestic abuse or neglect. Courts also consider the parents' willingness to support and encourage a relationship between the child and the other parent.
3. Can Child Custody Arrangements Be Modified in Minnesota?
Yes, child custody arrangements can be modified in Minnesota. However, the parent requesting the change must prove that there is a significant change in circumstances that affects the child's well-being, and that altering the custody arrangement will be in the best interest of the child. Some examples of such changes could be a parent's relocation, change in financial stability, or evidence of abuse or neglect.
4. How Is Child Support Calculated in Minnesota?
Child support in Minnesota is determined based on guidelines that factor in both parents' gross incomes and the costs associated with raising the child, such as healthcare and education. The amount of time the child spends with each parent may also impact the child support amount. The goal is to maintain a standard of living for the child that is as close as possible to what they would experience if the parents were together.
5. How Can a Parent Lose Custody Rights in Minnesota?
There are several circumstances under which a parent could lose custody rights in Minnesota, but it usually involves extreme cases where the parent's behavior or actions pose a risk to the child's safety and well-being. Some examples include chronic substance abuse, neglect, or physical or emotional abuse of the child. The court's primary concern is always the child's best interest, so a parent may lose custody rights if they are found unfit to care for the child.