Child Custody/Parenting Time

child custodyThe care and custody of minor children can be one of the most contentious issues between parents. The Courts have vast discretion in determining custody and establishing parenting time schedules. Accordingly, it is essential to have representation by an attorney experienced in custody and parenting time matters to ensure your parental rights are protected.

Our attorneys have experience helping clients negotiate reasonable custody and parenting time plans, which create practical solutions that focus on what is best for the child. When parties are unable to agree on custody and parenting time, expert evaluators may be necessary to provide the Court with recommendations and guidance. Our office works with the most reputable experts and evaluators. We have significant experience challenging expert testimony at trial and presenting persuasive and relevant evidence on behalf of our clients.

The following are key points to know about Minnesota custody and parenting time law:

  • Custody labels are defined by law. Legal custody means the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training. Physical custody and residence means the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child. Minn. Stat. ç 518.003.
  • There is a presumption that parents share joint legal custody. However, this presumption can be overcome if domestic abuse between the parties has occurred, or if the Court finds that an award of joint legal custody is not in the child’s best interests.
  • There is no presumption of sole or joint physical custody and residence. The Court will make physical custody and residence determination according to the best interests of the child factors listed in Minn. Stat. ç 518.17.
  • If the parents are not married when or after the child is born, the mother retains sole legal and physical custody until a Court establishes custodial rights for the father. When a child is born outside of marriage, paternity can be established by a document called recognition of parentage (ROP) signed by both parents. If a recognition is not signed, paternity must be established by the Court before fathers can obtain custodial rights.
  • Parenting time is the amount of time each parent gets to spend with the children. Parenting time is the current name for what was previously known as “visitation.” There is no specific schedule that must be followed. However, there is a presumption that a parent is entitled to a minimum of at least 25% of the parenting time, unless domestic abuse has occurred. The Court uses the best interests of the child factors to create the parenting time schedule.
  • Custody and parenting time are modifiable by the Court if certain standards are met. However, there are also time limits on when a request for modification may be made. If you are considering a modification, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine if you have met the timing requirements and other standards.
  • Parents are not the only ones who can obtain custody of children. Grandparents and other interested third parties can be custodians under certain circumstances.

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