How is Child Custody Determined in a Minnesota Divorce?

February 21, 2015  |  Elizabeth A. Schading

Child custody is one of the most complicated issues in a Minnesota divorce. Although custody issues seldom go to trial, it’s still difficult for parents to come to an agreement on who should have custody of the child, or if the custody should be shared. It’s important to understand the types of child custody in Minnesota and how custody is determined.
Types of Child Custody
In Minnesota, there are two primary types of child custody:
• Physical
• Legal
Physical refers to the child’s day-to-day routine and where he or she lives.
Legal refers to how the child is raised, such as what school the child attends, his or her health care and religious upbringing.
Some parents share custody, which is known as either joint legal or joint physical custody. But in some cases, one parent may have sole custody (both physical and legal) of the child.
When parents share legal custody, it means that both parents will share the decision making when it comes to how the child is raised.
When parents share physical custody, it means that the child’s residence and daily routine will be split between both parents, but not necessarily on an equal basis.


How Child Custody is Determined
In Minnesota, child custody can be determined in two ways:
• By a judge
• By agreement
Child Custody Agreement
When trying to resolve custody issues, parents are often worried about having to go in front of a judge. But with most cases being resolved outside of the courtroom, it’s important to instead focus on coming to an agreement.
A child custody agreement is resolved informally, voluntarily and outside of the courtroom. Parents and their attorneys settle any disputes the two parents have over custody issues. All of this is done with the child’s best interest in mind. Resolving these issues outside of the courtroom and without getting the children involved often makes it easier on them.

If an Agreement Can’t Be Made, a Judge Will Decide

If you and your spouse can’t come to an agreement on custody issues, a judge will need to make the decision for you. The judge will always keep the child’s best interest in mind. Some things that the judge may consider are:
• The child’s tie to his or her community and school
• Whether or not a parent is capable of providing care
• The child’s health condition and age
• Each parent’s lifestyle choice
• The wishes of the child
Help Is Available Today
Family Law matters like child custody can be difficult to navigate alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Family Law attorneys if you have concerns or need help with a specific situation. Call us today at (763) 780-8500 or email us if you prefer. Help is just a phone call away. Elizabeth Schading author of this article is now offering Free thirty minute initial consultations.  Her regular ninety minute initial consultations are available for a fee.