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The basics of child custody in Minnesota

When married parents in Minnesota get divorced, or unmarried parents break up, one of the most important legal issues that needs to be settled is what to do about the children. Though many parents are able to work together to create a child custody plan, in other cases the parents clash, requiring the aid of the court.

As in most other states, there are two forms of child custody. Physical custody is the type that most people think of when they say “child custody.” It refers to the child’s living arrangements and the right to make day-to-day decisions about his or her upbringing.

Legal custody concerns the parents’ right to make important decisions for the child. Typical things that legal custody empowers you to decide include where to send the child to school and how to care for the child’s medical needs. It is possible for parents to share legal custody, while one parent gets sole physical custody.

As the name implies, sole custody refers to situations where one parent gets 100 percent physical custody, legal custody or both. When the parents share custody, that is called joint custody. Parents who do not share custody may retain parenting time, which is also known as visitation. The court can set a schedule of parenting time.

Minnesota judges must consider the child’s best interests when ruling on child custody. Parents should also consider what is best for their kids when trying to reach a settlement. This way, the divorce or separation of their parents will not be as traumatizing as it could have been.

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