In Minnesota, the parties or the court must decide custody, parenting time, and child support during a dissolution proceeding involving minor children. In Minnesota, there are two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody. Minnesota courts determine custody by applying the “best interest factors” as defined by Minnesota Statutes, section 518.17. Every state has its own definitions of custody and custody labels, and understanding what these terms mean is important before agreeing to custody labels or proceeding through the court process.
Legal custody means making major life decisions regarding the upbringing of your minor child. Education, medical treatment (generally non-emergency health care), and religious upbringing are major life decisions.
The following are some examples of legal custody decisions:
It is possible to have sole or joint legal custody in Minnesota (also referred to as “shared” custody).
The physical custody of a minor refers to his or her residence, daily care, and control. Physical custody usually refers to which parent the child(ren) will reside with most of the time and on a day-to-day basis. A child’s physical custody is different from their parenting time, which usually refers to a schedule.
The children’s schedules, the parties’ schedules, transportation, and where the children will sleep can all be discussed during parenting time.
In Minnesota, physical custody can also be either sole or joint.
The following are examples of joint physical custody:
The court will consider the following factors when assessing joint physical custody:
Currently, there is no presumption in Minnesota that parents should share physical custody of their minor children. A party who is seeking joint physical custody of a minor child must prove that the parties can co-parent and cooperate in raising the child(ren) and resolving disputes related to the child.