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Child Custody Laws in Minnesota

Child Custody Laws in Minnesota



Over the past ten years, Minnesota’s child custody laws and regulations have evolved to prioritize the best interests of children involved in custody disputes. This article provides an overview of key changes in Minnesota’s child custody laws and regulations from 2013 to 2023.

2013: Child’s Best Interests Standard

   – Adoption of the child’s best interests standard as the central consideration in custody determinations.

2014: Shared Custody Emphasis

   – Emphasis on shared custody arrangements to encourage active involvement of both parents.

2015: Parenting Plans Requirement

   – Introduction of mandatory parenting plans outlining custody, visitation, and support arrangements.

2016: Child’s Preferences Consideration

   – Consideration of the child’s preferences in custody determinations based on age and maturity.

2017: Grandparent Visitation Recognition

   – Recognition of grandparent visitation rights in custody proceedings.

2018: Domestic Violence Protections

   – Strengthened provisions to protect children from exposure to domestic violence.

2019: Mediation Promotion

   – Emphasis on mediation as a means to amicably resolve custody disputes.

2020: Virtual Visitation Acceptance

   – Acknowledgment of virtual visitation as a means for non-custodial parents to maintain contact.

2021: Military Deployment Consideration

   – Consideration of the impact of military deployment on custody arrangements.

2022: Child Support Alignment

   – Alignment of child custody and child support procedures for consistency.

2023: Relocation Guidelines

   – Introduction of guidelines for parents seeking to relocate with their child, emphasizing stability.

Minnesota’s continuous efforts to adapt child custody laws reflect the state’s dedication to the well-being of children and families. Staying informed about these changes is crucial for parents and legal professionals navigating custody matters.

Guide to Child Custody Laws in Minnesota

Child custody can be a contentious issue between parents.  If you are a Minnesota parent facing a child custody dispute, you need to know the child custody laws in Minnesota to have the best chance of obtaining the custody order you want.  This guide will help you understand the terminology and guidelines used by Minnesota courts when granting child custody to parents.  By the end of this guide, you will have a better understanding of child custody laws in Minnesota and be better prepared for more specific research.

Stipulations (Parenting Agreements)

Many parents can come to some kind of agreement about the child custody arrangements that will work best for them and their children.  Child custody laws in Minnesota allow these parents to write a stipulation, or agreement, about child custody issues that the court will approve.

You may wish to work out the stipulations for your own child custody case privately, but if you are having difficulty arriving at a stipulation that works for both parents, the court may order you to attend mediation.  Mediation is much less formal than courtroom legal procedure and allows a neutral third-party mediator to help you through any disputes.  Mediators can keep both parents on track to making a good agreement, and help you avoid pitfalls or distractions.

The judge in your child custody case always has the final say over whether your stipulation will be approved by the court.  However, the vast majority of parental stipulations are accepted with no modification from the court.

Legal Custody

There are two types of custody that judges can award based on child custody laws in Minnesota: legal custody and physical custody.  Both these types of custody can be awarded to either or both parents, and must be awarded without consideration of the parent’s gender, even if the child is very young.  Legal custody refers to the ability to make major decisions on behalf of your child, including decisions about where your child will go to school or church as well as medical choices.

Courts will often award joint legal custody to parents who can come up with a parenting plan allowing them to make decisions together.  Other times, child custody laws in Minnesota allow sole custody to be awarded to a parent if joint legal custody does not seem to be in the best interests of the child.  Judges will take into account whether the parents seem to be able to agree and whether they have a method in case of disputes.

Physical Custody

Physical custody is the other type of custody granted by Minnesota courts.  This kind of custody refers specifically to where a child will be living.  Sometimes, joint legal custody is given to parents but physical custody will rest primarily with one.  This tends to happen when both parents are fit for parenting but live far apart or cannot figure out a way to evenly split time with their child.