When a married parents file for divorce in Minnesota, they must resolve numerous issues regarding their minor children. Child custody issues are undoubtedly a high priority in most cases. It’s important to seek clarification about the laws that govern such matters before heading to court so that a concerned parent can protect his or her rights and ensure that the children’s best interests are a central focus of all proceedings.
Understand the difference between physical and legal child custody
There are basically two main types of child custody. Physical custody refers to where a child is going to live after his or her parents no longer share a household. Legal custody, on the other hand, refers to the authority to make decisions on behalf of a child. Such decisions typically pertain to health, education, religion and other important life issues.
A parent may request joint or sole custody
In most cases, the court believes it is best for parents who divorce to share custody of their children. There are numerous issues, however, that may be relevant in a specific case wherein the judge overseeing the case might determine that joint custody would not be best for the children in question. For instance, a concerned parent might request sole custody if he or she has evidence that the other parent is unfit. The court considers a number of guidelines in these circumstances, including the income level of both parents, mental and physical health, who the primary caregiver was for the children during marriage and more.
Issues may arise after divorce is finalized
Having a child custody order in place does not guarantee that all will be smooth sailing between co-parents after divorce. While both parents are obligated to adhere to the terms of a court order, problems may arise if a co-parent is disregarding an order, such as refusing to transfer custody at an appointed time or intentionally denying children access to their other parent, etc. A Minnesota parent who encounters legal problems after divorce may request a meeting with an experienced family law attorney for support.