Change of Custody Requires Endangerment, Right?
No. Under the MN Stat. 518.18, there are five (5) different ways to have a Court order a change of custody. The most often sited prong of the statute does refer to the finding of endangerment because this is when the parents are fighting about the change of custody. However, the parents can agree to the change of custody, the child could have become integrated into the petitioning parent’s house with the agreement of the other parent, or the parents could have agreed to apply a best interest standard to change custody.
Recently, a lesser known subsection of a law was recently highlighted as an instance where endangerment was also not required. Under MN Stat. 518.18(d)(v), an endangerment does not need to be found in order to change custody. This section of Minnesota law applies when a parent requests to move out of state; is denied that request, and moves anyway. Under this section, the non-moving parent can file for a change of custody without alleging endangerment based upon the moving parent’s choice to disregard and disobey a Court order.
A recent unpublished Minnesota Appellate Court case affirmed this provision in upholding a change of custody. Despite the Court’s denial of Mom’s request to move out of state, Mom moved. Dad filed for a change of custody and after a lengthy and costly hearing, the district Court and later the appellate court upheld the change of custody to Dad.
The lesson to be learned first and foremost from this case and from the Minnesota Statute – obey a Court order otherwise there could be very serious consequences.