As a father, time with your child is precious, and you might feel worried about how your divorce will affect you and your child’s relationship. The prospect of missing out on invaluable time with your little one is understandably upsetting and a concern that many Minnesota dads deal with. Child custody plans are integral to ensuring that your child’s needs will always be front and center.
However, reaching an agreement that both parents agree is best is not necessarily easy. It is important that you understand the basics of custody before attempting to conclude what is truly in your child’s best interests.
Will my wife automatically get custody?
Historically, women often received primary physical custody regardless of the situation. While this might have been appropriate for past generations in which mothers tended to stay home while fathers were breadwinners, it does not accurately reflect current families.
Many Minnesota families have two working parents, with each parent taking on a portion of the childrearing roles that mothers once spearheaded. With this as most people’s new normal, automatically handing primary custody over to mothers no longer makes sense. Instead, courts consider who acted as the child’s primary caregiver.
How do courts determine which parent is the primary caregiver?
Which actions indicate that a parent is a primary caregiver will differ for each family. For some, this means always dropping the children off at school, while for other families it looks more like sending the kids out the front door towards the bus stop. Common caregiver responsibilities can include:
- Overseeing homework
- Driving to and from activities
- Arranging health care appointments
- Planning and preparing meals
- Purchasing clothes
However, what happens when both parents play active roles in a child’s life? Perhaps your soon-to-be ex was responsible for transporting your children to afterschool activities while you always bathed them and prepared their meals. This is increasingly the new norm for families, but it does not mean that deciding on custody is impossible.
Joint custody is an option
Over the past several years, joint physical custody has grown in popularity. Unlike joint legal custody, which allows both parents to have a say in the important decisions in their child’s life regardless of who has physical custody, joint physical custody gives both parents nearly equal access to children. Many proponents of this custody arrangement point out that it gives children the opportunity to maintain regular contact with both parents, which may lessen the impact of the overall divorce.
While this is an appropriate option for many Minnesota families, no custody plan is a one-size-fits-all approach. Taking the time to carefully review different custody options and the potential impact on children is an essential step to reaching an agreeable arrangement. As family law can be understandably confusing, especially during a period as difficult as divorce, many people choose to complete this process with the guidance of experienced counsel.