Maintaining Your Parental Rights

As a parent, you have many concerns about the well-being of your children — especially when facing divorce or a child custody dispute. At Coodin & Overson, PLLP, in Lake Elmo, Minnesota, our child custody attorneys help clients negotiate parenting arrangements that protect their needs and the best interests of their children. Whether you are dealing with child custody issues within the context of a divorce or have never been married to the other parent of your child, our attorneys can educate you and assist you in understanding and enforcing your rights.

Our Twin Cities area law firm will work to develop the right solution for you and your family — one that takes into account your unique goals and circumstances. Contact us at 651-319-5180 to schedule a free initial consultation with a skilled child custody lawyer.

Minnesota Child Custody Laws

Every child custody arrangement — established through a negotiated agreement or a family court judge — must illustrate each parent's rights regarding legal custody and physical custody.

  • Legal custody refers to a parent's right (and responsibility) to make important decisions involving the child's upbringing, such as religion, medical care or education. Parents can frequently share legal custody. However, if the parents cannot effectively reach agreements together, it is unlikely that the court will allow a joint legal custody arrangement.
  • Physical custody refers to the right of a parent to provide a residence for the child. Parents can share physical custody. However, even in joint physical custody (shared custody) arrangements, one parent can be designated the custodial parent — this is the parent with whom the child resides primarily. The noncustodial parent would then be awarded parenting time (child visitation). Generally, the noncustodial parent is also ordered to pay child support.

If you are a divorcing parent, you may be asked to consider joint custody or to adhere to a parenting plan or custody orders. To learn more about these concepts, read our joint custody and our custody orders vs. parenting plan orders articles.

What Is in Your Child's Best Interest?

Minnesota child custody laws place the best interests of the children at the forefront of every child custody-related decision. When child custody determinations are made by the court or custody evaluators, a total of 12 factors are considered in order to determine the best interests of the children.:

  • Each parent's willingness to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent (except in cases in which abuse has occurred)
  • The child's physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual and other needs
  • The current relationship between each parent and child
  • The amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment
  • The child's adjustment to the current home, school and community
  • The child's preference (if the court deems the child is mature enough)
  • Several other factors

In considering many of these factors, the court will evaluate the situation prior to filing for divorce as well as the new accommodations being proposed by each parent. For example, will one parent be remaining in the same home or same community? Will a proposed new home offer comparable support of other family or friends? Are there accusations of domestic violence? It is important to understand, however, that the judge has discretion over how much weight each factor has.

Accusations of child abuse or spousal abuse can play a significant role in child custody cases. To learn more about the effects of domestic violence on child custody, read our related article.

Experienced Divorce and Custody Attorneys in the Twin Cities

Our law firm encourages an amicable approach to child custody, whenever possible, in order to reduce the emotional impact of the custody dispute on the children involved. Our attorneys can assist you in custody negotiations, mediation or collaborative law to resolve issues involving child custody and parenting time. We can also help you seek a child custody evaluation to assist you in reaching an agreement. However, if your needs and the best interests of your children can only be sought in the courtroom, we have the trial experience necessary to present your child custody case in court.

Contact a St. Paul Child Custody Lawyer Today

To learn more about how our attorneys at Coodin & Overson, PLLP, handle custody modifications, legal custody, physical custody, shared custody, joint custody, primary custody, sole custody, visitation and other child custody cases, contact us today and schedule a free initial consultation.

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