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Do you have to split legal and physical custody of your children?

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | Divorce

Figuring out your individual roles in the lives of your children can be one of the hardest parts of a divorce. You and your ex probably want to be there for holidays and major school events, and neither of you may want to compromise much about the terms that you set regarding your parenting time and access.

In Minnesota, the family courts generally operate with the presumption that it is best for the children to keep both parents actively involved in their lives. Does that mean you will inevitably have to share both legal and physical custody of your children with your ex?

The difference between legal and physical custody

Some parents don’t really understand the crucial differences between legal custody and physical custody during a divorce.

Legal custody involves the authority of a parent or guardian to make decisions on behalf of children. Legal custody means that a parent can decide what medical care their child receives, what religious services they attend and what education they pursue.

Physical custody involves parenting time and meeting the basic biological needs of the child, like nutrition and shelter. Minnesota family law judges have to divide physical and legal custody in a divorce with minor children.

The judge or the parents can create unique arrangements

When you divorce in Minnesota, you and your ex have rights, as do the children. Sometimes, parents become so focused on what they want that they don’t stop to think about what is best for the kids. That concern will be the main focus of the judge if you require a judge to make those decisions for your family.

Judges can and likely will split custody rights between parents. However, in cases where there is danger to the children or a history of parental instability, a judge may limit the physical custody of one parent to just visitation. In scenarios with extreme parental conflict, a judge might either split legal custody between parents on different matters or may only have one parent with legal custody to prevent conflicts about health care and schooling in the future.

Identifying the parenting roles most important to you can help you push for the best possible outcome in custody proceedings in a Minnesota divorce.