Custody Presumptions in Minnesota
According to Minnesota child custody laws, a custodial parent is entitled to at least 25 percent of the parenting time with his or her child. There are other notable presumptions in family law that exist today, or no longer exist, that a parent also should know. They involve the two types of custody: (1) legal custody; and (2) physical custody.
Legal custody means the right to be involved in and to make decisions regarding the major aspects of the child’s upbringing, including schooling, medical care, and religion. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal input regarding the major aspects of the child’s upbringing. Sole legal custody means that one parent has sole authority over the major aspects of the child’s upbringing.
Physical custody means the routine daily care of the child and where the child lives. Joint physical custody means that the routine daily care of the child is shared between the parents. This can be a 50/50 custody arrangement where the parents share care of the child on an equal basis (for example, every week). The child may be in one parent’s care more than the other parent, but the parents may agree to call it joint physical custody. One parent can exercise sole physical custody, meaning the child’s residence is considered to be with that parent and that parent is responsible for the daily care and control of the child.
Minnesota law presumes that joint legal custody is in a child’s best interests. This is also evident in the 2015 changes in the “Best Interests of the Child” law set forth in Minnesota Statutes section 518.17. But this presumption is rebuttable. This means that a court may choose not to award the parents joint legal custody, and instead award sole legal custody giving one parent sole authority over the child’s upbringing, should there be evidence that the parents are unable or unwilling to cooperate in the raising of their child.
There is no presumption for or against joint physical custody. But there is a rebuttable presumption against both joint legal custody and joint physical custody when domestic abuse has occurred between the parents.
Finally, there is no longer a presumption that the primary caretaker of the child be awarded custody. A parent’s role as a homemaker and primary caretaker for the child, regardless of the parent’s gender, is just one of the many factors a court will consider when making a custody determination.
These are just a few of the things a parent should know about child custody law in Minnesota. When all is said and done, it is important to remember the importance of having a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney represent your interests as a parent.