The Basics About Who Gets Custody

When most people think about child custody, they think of disputes and arguments that can get so bad they eventually have to be resolved in court. While sometimes it can go that far, many custody cases are settled out of court. There are various ways parents can reach a custody and parenting time arrangement that works for them.

Working It Out Between Yourselves

Parents always have the option to negotiate their own child custody and parenting time arrangement. Some parents rely on informal arrangements that they agree to between themselves, without a court order. 

While this can work, we don’t recommend it. If something happens and one parent starts breaking the agreement, the other parent won’t be able to legally enforce the informal arrangement because there is no order for a court to enforce. 

Amicably creating your own custody arrangement is great, but it’s important to take the next step and get court approval of your plan. This gives you an enforceable custody schedule and you’ll be able to go to court in the future if necessary to enforce it. Reaching out to a Minnesota custody lawyer can help.

Child Custody Mediation

Under Minnesota law, parents who can’t reach a custody agreement between themselves will need to participate in child custody mediation. You will be required to try to reach a settlement in mediation before taking the issue to court. The only time mediation isn’t required is when a parent has a history of domestic violence.

The mediation sessions are led by a neutral party who does not take a side in your case. The neutral is there to help facilitate discussion and eventually help you reach a custody and parenting time agreement. Everything you discuss in mediation is confidential.

Having a Judge Decide Custody

If your custody matter can’t be resolved, then it’s time to seek court intervention. When a judge evaluates a custody case, Minnesota law requires the judge to reach a result that is in the best interests of the child. In evaluating the best interests of the child, the judge will consider more than a dozen factors, some of which include:

  • The effects the custody arrangement may have on the child’s needs and development
  • Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs the child may have
  • Parents’ physical and mental fitness to care for a child
  • The history of each parent’s involvement in caring for the child
  • How the custody arrangement might affect the child’s existing relationships with each parent, siblings, and other important people

If your child is old enough and mature enough, it’s possible that the court will also consider the child’s preferences regarding custody. Children can’t decide which parent they live with, but they can express an opinion.

Get Advice From a Sherburne County Child Custody Lawyer

Child custody issues deserve to be treated with urgency and sensitivity. That’s how we approach things at White & Associates in Elk River. If you need to talk to an attorney about any Minnesota child custody issue, please call us at 763-241-0477 or send us a message to arrange a free consultation.

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