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How To Establish Child Custody In Minnesota

child custody

Child custody matters are often emotional and stressful for parents and children, but an experienced child custody attorney can help by making sure that your parental rights are protected. The attorneys at Perusse Nixon represent parents in Minnesota child custody matters and help establish parenting time with their children.

Legal And Physical Custody

The two types of child custody are legal custody and physical custody. Either type of custody is determined by a court using the best interest factors set out in MN Stat. 518.17.

Legal custody relates to decision-making for the children. Typically, both parents are granted equal or joint legal custody, which covers such things as medical care, education, and religious upbringing. When parents cannot get along, and they are unable to agree on major decisions for their children, judges sometimes find that it is in the child’s best interests for only one parent to be in charge of making those decisions.

In Minnesota, there is a “rebuttable presumption” that parents will share joint legal custody, meaning that unless certain circumstances such as domestic abuse are present, parents will share decision making on these major life decisions.

Physical custody relates to where the child resides on a day-to-day basis. Like legal custody, physical custody can be joint or sole. In Minnesota, the term physical custody doesn’t mean as much as it used to, with the term parenting time meaning more to parents. Parenting time is just a schedule of when the child will be with each parent during the week and during holidays and vacations.

A parent can have sole physical custody but still share substantial parenting time with the other parent, or a parent can have the joint custody label but only spend a small percentage of the month with the child in their care. It is also the amount of parenting time that impacts child support, not the label “physical custody.” Changing the impact of the label “physical custody” has helped to reduce the fighting and hostility surrounding the post-divorce parenting of the children.

Once the parenting time schedule is figured out, the next step is to calculate child support. The formula for child support consists of the number of overnights at each parent’s home, the monthly cost of child care, and the monthly cost of health insurance for the children. Both parents’ gross monthly incomes are taken into account. A free online child support calculator can be found on the Minnesota Department of Human Services website.

Establishing Parentage In Minnesota

Before child custody can be settled, parentage must be established first. In many child custody cases, no steps are necessary to establish parentage because children born or adopted during a marriage are presumed to be the child of both spouses. In recent years, Minnesota has tried to clarify the law for same-sex divorces by presuming that both spouses are parents to a child born during the marriage, even when one parent is the child’s biological parent.

When parents were never married, there are more steps that must be taken to establish parentage. DNA tests can be used for biological children. Parents can also file paperwork providing that they are both the biological parents of the child and wish to be recognized as such. Recognition of parentage may have been signed and filed with the Minnesota vital records department, which could be used to establish parentage also.

Establishing parentage is more challenging in some cases where parentage is disputed between same-sex couples who were never legally married.

Child Custody Agreement Between Parents

Parents sometimes reach an agreement on custody matters on their own or through a collaborative divorce. In these cases, parents can seek the court’s approval and order for child custody by filing a joint petition to establish custody or a Stipulated Judgment and Decree at the end of a divorce process, which sets out the parties’ agreements for custody and parenting time.

Courts award custody based on what is in the child’s best interests, and they typically approve custody arrangements that have been agreed upon by both parents. It is always better for the family for parents to reach their own terms regarding custody, parenting time, and child support for their children.

Minnesota Child Custody Attorney

We know that nothing is more important to you than the physical and emotional health and safety of your child. Family law attorneys Cindy Perusse and Jennifer Nixon have decades of experience in child custody matters, and they will aggressively advocate for your parental rights and the well-being of your child.

Contact our Minnesota office at 612-564-2075 or complete our online form to schedule a low-cost consultation. See our Facebook page for more information about our law firm and Minnesota family laws.

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