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What Does Primary Physical Custody Mean In Minnetonka, MN

by | Sep 7, 2020 | Child Support, Firm News

The outcome of a child custody case can have a huge impact on the daily life of both parents. If you have children and are planning to get a divorce in Minnetonka or are already going through one, you need to understand how child custody works in Minnesota.

Of course, you can always consult an experienced custody lawyer in Minnetonka about the legal options available to you in your unique circumstances. However, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the basics of securing a custody plan that agrees with you and your children.

Child Custody in Minnetonka, Minnesota

Two types of child custody arrangements exist in Minnesota state:

  • Physical custody
  •  Legal custody

Physical custody refers “the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child.” It means having the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s daily life. The parent who has physical custody typically lives with the child, or decides where the child will live. This parent performs all the regular duties associated with determining how the child spends his/her day.

The term primary physical custody is often used in child custody orders for the parent with whom a child spends the majority of their time. In such cases, both parents have a right to the children, but one parent has more time with his/her child than the other. The child generally lives with the primary custodian, while the non-custodial parent is given visitation rights.

Legal custody is the right and the obligation of a parent to make broader and less tangible decisions pertaining to the child’s upbringing. This includes decisions about the child’s education, religious beliefs, medical care, and more.

In this post, we’ll be focusing on primary physical custody.

How Do Minnesota Courts Work out Child Custody Matters?

Child custody issues arise most commonly in situations when a divorcing couple has children. However, this issue can also arise in other circumstances, like when a child is being looked after by a non-parent or when a child gets involved in the juvenile court system.

Parents who agree on a custody arrangement proceed to file a document called a “stipulation.” The court usually grants them their requests. But when custody is contested, the case goes to either the Family Court when it is related to divorce, or the Juvenile Court when it is related to child protection.

Like all laws, child custody laws also vary by state in Minnesota. The child should have been living in the state of Minnesota with the primary caregiver for at least six months before the case can be filed, unless an exception is made. The court decides the custody arrangements in keeping with the best interests of the child.

Several considerations, such as each parent’s availability, relationship with the child, and so on come into play here.

If parents are not able to resolve their custody-related disagreements informally, they will have to approach the court. In Minnesota courts, parents can seek custody in two ways:

  • If the couple is married, they can file a summons and petition to initiate divorce proceedings and seek physical custody, or
  • If the couple is divorced or separated or never married, but the paternity of the child has been established, a petition or motion can be filed for custody in the county where the child lives or where the court has already issued a custody order previously.

In both cases, one parent will need to submit a written petition or motion to the other parent so that both have the opportunity to explain their respective side of the story to the judge if a hearing is scheduled.

Child custody issues are tied with state laws. Hence, cases where parents and children live in different states are complex to deal with. Fortunately, Minnesota statute encourages cooperation between courts within and outside the state. There are set provisions that enable the sharing of evidence between states. For a clearer understanding of how this works, you should consult a qualified Minnesota child custody attorney.

Important Considerations at Play

As mentioned, Minnesota courts decide on child custody based on the best interests of the child. The courts take into consideration the evidence presented as well as each of the following 13 factors in their decision:

The requests of the parents

  • The preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express their desire
  • The primary caretaker of the child
  • The child’s closeness with each parent
  • The quality of interaction and relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may impact the best interests of the child
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The duration of time the child has lived in a stable family environment, and the interest in its continuity
  • The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • The physical and mental health of everyone involved
  • The child’s cultural background
  • The history of domestic abuse in the family, if any
  • Each parent’s ability to give provide the child with affection, guidance, education, and teach the child about the family culture, religion, and creed, if any
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to encourage and allow interaction between the child and the other parent (unless domestic violence is involved)


The process of obtaining physical custody of a child can be complex and demanding. Fortunately, you need not go through it alone; legal help is always available. An experienced custody lawyer in Minnetonka can be your best ally and guide you through the legal maze, handle the necessary paperwork in court, and build your case from the ground up. After all, when your children are involved, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Get Legal Guidance from an Aggressive Child Custody Lawyer in Minnetonka, Minnesota

Don’t get lost in the labyrinth of legal paperwork, processes, and jargon when dealing with a child custody matter. Leave it to the experts. The team of experienced custody lawyers in Minnetonka at Carlson and Jones, P.A. will work diligently to bring you positive outcomes. Call us on 855-762-6548 for a free consultation of your case. You can also contact us with your queries through our website.