Family Law Practice

Minnesota Child Custody Attorney:
Protecting Your Children and Your Future

Understanding Child Custody Matters in Minnesota

Minnesota Child Custody Attorney

By law, both parents have legal rights to their child(ren), and mothers of minors receive automatic sole legal and physical custody if the parents are not married and if they have not signed a Recognition of Parentage. However, if it is proven the mother is unfit or has abandoned the child, these rights can be revoked. 

The family and divorce law in the state of Minnesota is gender neutral, ensuring no specific parent has an advantage in custody or parenting time proceedings based on gender. However, there is often a good case for best interest factors, such as whether the mother is critical to a child’s wellbeing. In these cases, attorneys must demonstrate the critical nature of why children must remain with their mothers over fathers without referring to gender. A biological mother also has the right to bring a paternity action to determine child support. 

Parents have the right to make decisions like childcare, schooling, healthcare, religion, and more on behalf of their children. Unless these rights are legally denied to a parent, both parents are entitled to be involved in the decision-making.

Why Choose Us As Your Minnesota Child Custody Attorney For Your Case?

Sterle Law has a wealth of knowledge supporting individual parents in their efforts to protect their children. We’ll ease this fraught time in your family by advising you on how best to approach cases involving divorce, custody, and parenting time. Our collaborative process, pervasive knowledge of Minnesota’s child custody laws and procedures, and proven track record of results will give you peace of mind.

Below, we review the forms of custody arrangements, how custody is determined, and Minnesota’s legal process so you feel equipped to begin navigating the child custody process.

Types of Child Custody Arrangements

Custody cases seek to determine physical and/or legal custody of children. Physical custody relates to where the child(ren) will live, whereas legal custody refers to the right to make major decisions – health, education, religion, etc. – regarding the child or children. 

Physical custody can be bestowed to one parent, referred to as sole custody, or split between both parents, termed joint custody. 

Legal custody tends to be shared 50-50 between parents, unrelated to the determination of physical custody. The hope is for parents to make these important life decisions for their children together. If one parent’s ability to make sound decisions for their child or children is compromised, then legal custody may be granted to a sole parent.

Regardless of whether the case is for physical or legal custody, a parent will file a petition for custody in the county where the child(ren) permanently reside or where a court has previously issued a custody order. If an agreement cannot be reached outside of court, the case will proceed to trial where the court will then determine custody based on the above factors. However, the state encourages parents to arrive at a custody arrangement together without the need for legal mediation. During a trial, the court may request a full custody evaluation. Contact a Minnesota child custody attorney for more information.

Factors in Determining Child Custody

The wellbeing of the child or children is at the forefront of the court’s custody decisions. Courts examine the following elements when making these critical decisions:

  • Any medical, mental health, or educational needs that may warrant particular parenting arrangements or access to specific services
  • A child’s physical, emotional, spiritual, cultural, and other needs that will affect their development
  • The reasonable preference of the child, if the court determines the child is of acceptable maturity to articulate a preference
  • If there is domestic abuse present in either parent’s household; the nature and context of the domestic abuse; and the potential consequences of the abuse on the child’s safety, wellbeing, and development
  • If a parent’s physical, mental, or chemical health issue will affect a child’s safety or developmental needs
  • Each parent’s capacity and readiness to provide ongoing care, including developmental, emotional, cultural, and spiritual, for the child and the ability to sustain care
  • The history and nature of each parent providing care for the child
  • The effect the arrangements may have on relationships between the child and parent, siblings, and other significant people in the child’s life
  • The effect changes to home, community, and school will have on the child’s wellbeing and development 
  • The benefit of parenting time with both parents or detriment of limiting parenting time with either parent
  • The willingness and capacity of each parent to cooperate in raising the child; to minimizing the exposure to any conflicts between parents; and readiness to employ problem solving methods for disputes regarding major decisions
  • The disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent, including continuing contact between the pair