Minnesota Child Custody and Parenting Time

How to raise children after parents separate is the most difficult issue in a divorce proceeding and by far the most emotional one for clients. There are two types of custody; legal custody which means who gets to make the important daily decisions in a child’s life, e.g. schools, religious upbringing, medical decisions and physical custody which means who has responsibility for the daily care, control and residence of the child. In some cases, persons other than biological parents wish to have custody of the children and that is referred to as third party custody.

While Minnesota statutes still contain the term “physical custody” family law attorneys have shifted from using labels such as sole custody to talking in terms of who is the “primary residential parent.” The word “custody” evokes notions of owning property or having control over someone against their will.

Both custody and parenting time are determined by the “best interests” of the child. Best interests is guided by a statutory list of 17 factors a court must consider when deciding upon legal and physical custody and parenting time.
The term “visitation has been replaced with the term “parenting time. “Parenting time” is a softer term that reflects the shared responsibilities that both parents have toward their children. Minnesota has implemented the use of Parenting Plans to assist parents with scheduling time with their children and rules for communicating with each other about their kids. These detailed agreements, approved by a court, become enforceable orders.