How Do Minnesota Courts Decide Custody of a Child?

October 27, 2014  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

Minnesota law considers the best interests of the child, so a wide variety of factors are taken into consideration and no one factor takes precedence over another. The courts may award joint physical custody if the arrangement is practical and in the child’s best interest.

Some factors that the courts take into consideration are:

  • Where the child goes to school and the local community. If a child is already well adjusted in his or her current school and community, it may not be in the child’s best interest to force the child to move. The opposite can also be true. If a child is not well adjusted in their current environment, he or she may be better off moving to a new community and attending a new school.
  • The parent who will remain in the family’s home. If one parent will remain in the family’s home and can provide a stable environment, they will have an advantage over the parent who is constantly moving from one home to another.
  • How long the child has been living in the family’s home.
  • The parent’s wishes.
  • The parent who has served as the child’s primary caretaker. In some cases, one parent acted as the child’s primary caretaker. He or she was responsible for the child’s day-to-day care. This includes everything from bathing to meal preparation, medical care, cleaning and teaching the child necessary life skills.
  • The child’s wishes (if they are mature enough to express a preference).
  • Whether or not the child has been abused either physically or mentally by either parent or another family member. If there is a history of abuse, the courts may decide that a parent is unfit for custody or even visitation rights in some cases.
  • The mental and physical health of the parents and the child.
  • The parent’s ability to provide the child with guidance, love and affection.
  • The intimacy of each parent-child relationship.

The Child’s WishesChild Custody Minnesota

If a child expresses a reasonable, mature preference, their wishes may be taken into consideration. It’s important to consider whether or not a child wants to live with one parent or another, but manipulation and fear can cloud a child’s judgment.

The Parent’s Behavior

Far too often, parents are not on their best behavior when going through a divorce, and this can wind up hurting their chances of gaining custody, and is also harmful to the development of their child.

BGS Family Law Attorneys Can Help

If you’re dealing with divorce and child custody issues, don’t go it alone!  The family law team at Barna, Guzy and Steffen are dedicated to providing legal counsel that will help you understand all the variables in play with your family’s future. Give us a call today.