Dakota County Child Custody Attorney
Helping Parents Create Effective Parenting Plans
Determining child custody can be a difficult process, especially when parents have a hard time agreeing upon the terms. Fortunately, the attorney at Sullivan Law Office can help you come up with a sound arrangement. We understand that the child comes first in situations like this and will always do what is in their best interest.
With over 13 years of experience, our lawyer can effectively help you with the following custody decisions:
- Primary or joint custody
- Visitation rights
- Grandparents’ rights
- Order enforcement
- Juvenile delinquency and dependency
- Modifications to an existing custody and/or visitation order
- And more
To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled Dakota County child custody attorney, call our firm today at (651) 998-7589.
How Is Child Custody Determined in Minnesota?
Minnesota courts are required to apply 13 separate factors to determine which custodial arrangement is in the child's best interests:
- the parents' wishes;
- the child's preference, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to make a reasonable request;
- the child's primary caretaker;
- the child’s attachment to each parent;
- the relationship between child and his or her parent(s), sibling(s), and any other person who may significantly impact the child's best interests;
- the child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
- the amount of time the child has lived in a stable environment and the desire to maintain that consistency;
- the permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;
- the mental and physical health of all individuals involved, although a disability can't be used to determine the outcome unless it negatively affects the parent’s ability to care for the child;
- each parent's ability to give the child love, affection, and guidance;
- the child's cultural background and the each parent’s ability to continue raising the child in the family culture and religion or creed, if applicable;
- the effect of domestic abuse on the child, if any;
- each parent's ability and willingness to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the other parent with the child (unless otherwise specified by the court).
If the parents are seeking joint physical custody, the court then considers four additional factors:
- the ability of the parents to cooperate when caring for the child;
- methods used by the parents to resolve disputes regarding major life decisions for the child, and the parents' willingness to apply those methods;
- whether giving one parent sole authority over the child’s upbringing would be detrimental to the child’s wellbeing; and
- whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.
Legal vs. Physical Custody
There are 2 types of custody included in the parental rights and responsibilities to a child. Additionally, it is possible for a court to grant one type of custody to a parent while barring them from the other. For example, a court may determine that the parents share joint physical custody of a child but may grant full legal custody to only one parent.
Legal custody of a child allows one or both parents to make important decisions concerning their child’s education, health, and/or religion. If the court decides to grant joint legal custody to the parents, then both must agree on these decisions before they can be made. If parents are unable to agree, they may need dispute resolution services from a family court or mediator.
Physical custody of a child is when a parent is responsible for the day to day activity of the child. This could be anything from ensuring the child is properly cared for at home to maintaining their safety at an outing or event. Joint physical custody is when parents split this responsibility. Primary physical custody is when one parent is responsible for the child’s daily activity and well being.
A parenting plan is the schedule parents create that allocates the time each person spends with the child. This plan usually includes holidays, school breaks, and birthdays. It is required by the Minnesota court for parents to submit this plan when they begin a child custody case. However, it can be as detailed or vague as the parents would like.
For example, some parents may choose to outline exact days and times they have custody of the child. While other parents may prefer a more informal schedule that allows for more spontaneity and flexibility. Neither plan is better than the other as any parenting schedule is as unique as the parties involved in the custody case. If parents cannot agree on a parenting schedule, the judge presiding over the case will create one.
To create a sound parenting plan, a judge will:
- Order a custody/parenting time evaluation to be completed by a neutral evaluator
- Consider each parent’s work schedule and time they have to devote to caring for the child on a daily basis
- Determine whether each parent is mentally fit to care for the child without supervision
- If either parent has a history of substance abuse, determine whether that parent is currently at risk for relapse
The child’s best interest and wellbeing is always the primary concern of the court. For this reason, a judge will always rule in favor of what they believe would benefit the child the best.
Helping Parents Maintain a Relationship with Their Child
Sullivan Law Office is dedicated to helping our clients create a custody arrangement that is beneficial to their child. We will go over the common factors of child custody with you and help you come up with a plan that is effective for all parties involved.
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