If you are a parent, the hardest part of your divorce or separation for your children’s other parent will likely be the prospect of spending less time with your children. You may feel upset that you will no longer see them every day, especially if your split is contentious. Yet, it is important to set aside your feelings and put your children’s needs first. By doing so, you can make sure that the custody agreement you reach is in their best interests, based on Minnesota’s laws.
Understanding your children’s best interests
In Minnesota, any custody agreement set forth by the court – or reached by you and your spouse – must uphold your children’s best interests. To determine these, numerous factors must be weighed. Among these are:
- You and the other parent’s roles during your relationship;
- Whether you and the other parent can both meet your children’s physical and emotional needs;
- Whether you and the other parent will both support your children’s relationship with their other parent;
- Whether you or the other parent has a history of domestic abuse;
- Whether you or the other parent has any physical, mental, or chemical health issues;
- Your children’s relationship to their home, school, and community; and
- Your children’s preferences, if they are of an appropriate age and maturity.
Understanding the different types of custody
Minnesota, like most states, recognizes two different types of custody. Physical custody designates the home that will be your children’s main residence. Legal custody designates who will make major decisions about your children’s medical care, education, and religious upbringing. Both types of custody can take form as joint or sole arrangements, depending on what is in your children’s best interests.
If you and your children’s other parent are awarded joint physical custody, your children will live with both of you, though not necessarily for equal amounts of time. If you and the other parent are awarded joint legal custody, you will both have the right and responsibility to make major decisions about your children.
You or the other parent may be awarded sole physical custody if it is best for your children. If this happens, their primary residence will be the custodial parent’s home. The noncustodial parent will likely receive ample parenting time unless it would pose a risk to your children’s safety.
No matter how difficult your divorce or separation is, you will want to make sure your custody arrangement allows your children to thrive afterward. A family law attorney can help you work toward establishing a plan that puts their needs first.