Compassionate Child Custody Attorney Serves Eagan
Child custody is one of the most misunderstood areas of family law. The objective with child custody disputes should always be establishing a reasonable and workable parenting time schedule for both parents. It is important to remember that there are two types of child custody designations in Minnesota, “legal” custody and “physical” custody.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s right to make decisions regarding his or her child’s health care, education and religious upbringing. Legal custody can rest with one parent (i.e. “sole” custody) or both parents (i.e. “joint” custody).
Physical custody is held by whichever parent shares a primary physical residence with his or her child. Parents with physical custody are responsible for their child’s daily routine and care. As with legal custody, physical custody can rest with one or both parents.
Historically, labels governing custody (whether “joint” or “physical”) were directly related to the issue of child support. Today, due to newly enacted child support laws, the custody titles themselves have no bearing on child support arrangements.
Contested Child Custody & Best Interest of the Child
When a child custody case is contested, the courts will typically require a custody evaluation to be performed by an evaluator. This evaluator will interview the parents, child and other third-party sources (i.e. daycare provider, doctor, etc.).
The custody evaluator will submit a report with his or her recommendations for custody and parenting time based on the their analysis of the “best interest of the child.” Factors in determining the best interest of the child include the child’s preference and his or her primary caretaker. The court will also examine the intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child, the child’s interactions with each parent, the child’s adjustment to his or her home, school and community, the child’s mental and physical health (as well as those of the parents), the child’s cultural background, the capacity and willpower of each parent to demonstrate love to their child, whether or not the family has a history of violence and each parent’s commitment to involving the other in the child’s life.