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Minnesota marijuana bust could raise child custody issues

A nine-year-old Minnesota girl is staying with relatives after going to the police about her parents’ marijuana-growing operation. Officers went to the home with a search warrant based on the girl’s statement and reportedly uncovered several immature marijuana plants and related paraphernalia. It remains to be seen how the parents’ child custody rights will be affected or who will take custody of the girl if the parents’ rights are terminated.

In any Minnesota child custody matter, whether or not it occurs in the context of divorce, the child’s best interests are always the court’s primary consideration. This determination is based on a wide range of factors, such as what the child’s past relationship with each parent has been like and whether the parents are able to care for the child and provide for the child’s needs. 

Another important factor that judges consider is whether the child would be safe in the parent’s home. If a parent has a history of drug abuse or other criminal activity, that will likely factor into the court’s decision. In some divorce cases, one parent uses this type of information against the other in an attempt to sway the outcome of a child custody battle.

Generally, it is thought to be in a child’s best interests to have an ongoing relationship with both parents in some capacity, whether or not it involves living in the same household. However, if a judge decides that it is not safe for the child to spend time alone with the parent, supervision may be required during scheduled parenting times. In certain rare cases, the judge may decide that it is not in the child’s best interests to have contact with the parent at all.

Source: Pioneer Press, "Minnesota girl, 9, tells police parents growing pot at home," Emily Welker, June 26, 2014

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