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How is Child Custody determined in Minnetonka, MN

by | Oct 12, 2020 | Child Support, Firm News

Getting a divorce is never easy, even more so when children are involved. Determining child custody is one of the most stressful processes divorcing parents have to endure. Whether child custody is determined by parents (through an out-of-court agreement) or by a judge, it is a difficult choice that can have a long-term effect on parents and children.

As a parent, you should consider hiring an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN, if you want to increase the odds of winning the custody of your kids. However, you must also understand how child custody is determined as it can help you prepare for your case thoroughly.

1. Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

To file for child custody in Minnesota, you need to meet the residency requirements. The child must have lived in Minnesota with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months (180 days) before starting the court process. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, which you can better understand by consulting an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN.

In Minnesota, there are two primary types of child custody.

A. Physical Custody

Physical custody provides a parent with the rights for daily care and control of children. So, children will have to stay with the parent having physical custody. Physical custody can also be either joint or sole custody.

In joint physical custody, the children spend time with both parents, including stay, roughly equally. However, this type of custody is fast becoming a rare norm in most family courts.

Usually, considering the best interest of the children (education, social life, and daily needs), only one parent is given primary physical custody, while the other has visitation rights.

Visitation rights allow a parent to spend exclusive, but limited time with their children. The parent with physical custody is called the custodial parent, and the one with visitation rights is called the non-custodial parent.

B. Legal Custody

Legal custody provides a parent with the right to make long-term or significant decisions in their children’s lives. Usually, these key aspects include decisions regarding education, religion, medical treatment, and dental care, among other things specified in the court order.

You can get either joint or sole legal custody of your child. Joint legal custody means both parents will have an equal say in making important decisions about their children. Sole legal custody, however, gives these rights to only one parent, leaving the other with no legal right in this decision-making.

2. Am I Allowed to See My Children If My Ex Has Sole Custody?

In some rare situations, the court may offer sole physical and legal custody to one parent. It usually happens if one of the parents is deemed unfit or incapable of taking care of the children.

If there is a history of substance abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, or a criminal record, the court may prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing their children at all. However, it may also allow only supervised visits with highly limited visitation time and rights.

But in most cases, the non-custodial parent will have substantial visitation rights. Most courts emphasize the best interest of the children when making custody decisions. So, although one parent gets full physical custody, the other will still have significant involvement in the children’s upbringing. To understand your best legal options, however, you need to discuss your case in detail with an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN.

3. Do Children Have a Say in Child Custody?

In many states, including Minnesota, the courts are increasingly taking children’s preferences into account when deciding child custody. Although there is no specific age limit for children in Minnesota to express their custodial preferences, the court will take them into account only if the judge believes the child is mature enough.

judge believes the child is mature enough.

The preference also needs to be backed by logical reasoning. A child asking to stay with a parent just because they like it, is often not enough to make the consideration. The court will also take what older children have to say into account instead of what younger ones think, especially wishes of children below seven years are less likely to be entertained in this matter.

4. Are Custodial Arrangements Open to Modification?

Technically yes. The law allows modification of various child custody arrangements such as parenting time, alimony, and visitation rights.

However, it is a challenging process as you have to prove that the circumstances have changed enough to warrant a custodial modification and it is in the best interest of the children. Also, you can’t file for a custody modification  for at least a year from the date of filing the original divorce or legal separation order.

If you have made a modification request before, you need to wait for two years from the date of the last modification request before filing a new one. The one-year limit is not applicable, however, if both parents agree to the custodial changes. An experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN can help you better understand the process and regulations about custodial changes applicable to your case.


Child custody is an inevitable part of a divorce process when children are involved. The parents seeking a divorce must, therefore, understand how courts determine child custody in Minnesota. As you can see, there are several factors involved in determining the outcome of your child custody battle. Hopefully, this post will help you understand the basics of the child custody process and your legal rights as a parent

Talk to an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Minnetonka, MN Today!

If you are a parent seeking a divorce, you will need to think about child custody from the very beginning. As a leading and experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN, Carlson and Jones, P.A. can provide you with the right legal advice. Our experts will always help you do what’s best for your children. Call us at 855-762-6548 or you can also contact us through our website to know more.