Minnesota law encourages parents to work out custody arrangements themselves without bringing the issue to court. If they cannot come to an agreement, courts in Minnesota make custody decisions based on what is in the “best interest” of the child.

What Is a Parenting Plan?

Under Minnesota law, divorcing parents may create a parenting plan during a divorce. A parenting plan is a detailed, written agreement that sets out how they will share legal and physical custody of their children. If they cannot agree on a plan, the court will make assign custody. In a dispute, both parents must also attend a parenting class.

What Does the Court Consider in Assigning Custody?

Minnesota courts balance a series of factors when determining the best interest of a child.  These factors include:

  • The parent’s willingness to actively raise the child,
  • The child’s health, welfare, and safety,
  • The child’s need for stability,
  • The emotional and developmental needs of the child,
  • The physical and mental health of the parent,
  • The history of contact between the parents and the child,
  • The importance of sibling and other familial relationships,
  • Evidence of child abuse or spousal abuse, and
  • The child’s reasonable preference (if age appropriate), and
  • The parents’ wishes.

A parent’s gender is not considered as a factor. In a custody dispute, a guardian ad litem may be assigned to advocate for the child and help assess his or her best interests.

What Happens When the Court Has Made a Decision?

Once the custody order is signed, it is filed with the court clerk. Both parents are then bound by the approved order and the court must approve any further modifications. (Changes to the custody order must also be in the child’s best interest.)

Should I Contact a Minnesota Lawyer Regarding my Custody Issues?

Child custody disputes can be emotionally charged and require a detailed understanding of the law. If you have concerns about custody and parenting time, it is important that you speak with an experienced child custody lawyer. A lawyer will help advocate for you and your child and work to secure the best possible parenting arrangement for your family.