Gaining Full Custody as a MN Father Is Tough but Not Impossible
When a child is born, a special bond forms between a baby and their parents. Children rely on both of them for care, to meet their basic needs, and to teach them about the world.
The state of Minnesota recognizes how special the bond between child and parent can be, which is why they put laws in place that seek to protect children and parents while helping to maintain the very special relationship they share.
There are 13 factors that courts take into consideration when deciding on a custody case in this state. Learn what those factors are and what rights you have as a father in your Minnesota custody case.
Legal Custody vs. Physical Custody
There are two types of custody according to the law for a child in Minnesota. They are legal custody and physical custody, and not everyone knows the difference.
Legal custody describes the authority of a parent to make important decisions such as educational and medical choices for their child. It is common for parents to share this type of custody.
Physical custody, on the other hand, is exactly what it sounds like. The term refers to where the children physically live and who physically cares for them — the mother, the father, or some combination of both.
When parents agree to share physical custody, a court can order “joint physical custody.” In this scenario, parents spend time with their kids on a frequent basis – though it is not always equal.
Sole physical custody is a third option. In this case, the child lives with one parent and that parent does most of the caretaking. The other parent may have regular visitation of the children.
So how does the court decide which option is best for the children involved in a custody case? Read on to find out.
The Best Interests of the Child
When it comes to physical custody of the child, there isn’t a presumption under the law that joint physical custody should be ordered for children.
That’s why when a judge determines physical custody in these cases, they consider the best interests of the child based on thirteen distinct factors. Here they are:
- Who the child wishes to live with as well as what the parents want
- The preference of the child if they are of sufficient age
- The primary caretaker of the child
- The intimacy of the relationship between the child and each parent
- The interrelationships and interaction of the child with each parent as well as siblings
- How the child adjusts to the home, community, and school
- The desire for the child to maintain continuity in a stable environment
- The permanence of the proposed custodial home or an existing one
- The physical and mental health of those involved, with the exception of disabilities
- The disposition and the capacity of the parties involved to meet the child’s needs for affection, love, guidance, and to continue raising and educating the child in their religion, creed, or culture if one exists
- The cultural background of the child
- The impact of the child on the actions of an abuser if domestic abuse has occurred between parents
- The disposition of the parents to permit and encourage frequent contact and support by the other parent with the child, except in cases of domestic abuse
What is important to realize is that although popular opinion (and frankly the majority of custody case decisions) is that mothers tend to gain majority physical custody, fathers do have equal rights.
Paternal Rights in Custody Decisions
After paternity has been established by the courts in Minnesota, custody is examined and ruled on. The best interests of the child are examined, and a custody arrangement is approved.
In most cases, mothers and fathers are treated equally, and the court will place the child with the parent who best supports the child’s needs and provides the most stable living environment. It’s worth repeating here: While most people think that usually goes to the mother, fathers have equal rights.
If you are a father currently facing a custody battle, and you feel you are the best custody option, reach out to an experienced Duluth custody attorney — they can help you gather the proper proof and develop a strong case for primary custody.
About the Author:
A lifelong Minnesotan, founding partner Ronald R. Envall has spent his entire legal career fighting for the little guy, focusing on workers’ compensation, Social Security, and personal injury cases. He has been recognized by SuperLawyers as a Top Rated Attorney in Duluth, placing him in the top 5 percent of all workers comp lawyers across the state. In his free time, Mr. Envall serves on the boards of several area government and nonprofit organizations and is a member of the Minnesota Association for Justice, which supports consumer rights.