The Difference Between Legal and Physical Child Custody In Minnesota

Whenever a married couple decides to separate or divorce, arrangements must be made in regards to the children. Parents need to mutually agree on where the children will be raised and how they will spend time between the two adults. Whenever possible, it is always in the best interest for all parties involved for this to be accomplished with a detailed divorce or family law decree. However, sometimes a cooperative decision is not possible without further guidance from the courts.

When the parents cannot agree on how the children are to be taken care of, then the circumstances have to be decided by a district court judge. Minnesota’s child custody laws require children to be placed wherever it is in their best interest. There are numerous factors for a judge to consider that will determine whether the best placement is with the father or with the mother.

Furthermore, there are two types of child custody as defined under Minnesota law.

Physical Custody in Minnesota

Minnesota law defines physical custody as the daily care of a couple’s minor children. In addition, there are two sub-types of physical custody – sole and joint.

Sole physical custody is exactly what it sounds like. One parent is awarded full responsibility for caring for the children while the other is given no responsibility. While the courts often favor this outcome, not everyone sees it the same way. One of the main arguments against sole physical custody is that it essentially pins one parent as the “winner” while the other is the “loser,” often the mother and father, respectively. Many people believe that this might encourage conflict between the parents and create a more hostile environment for the children.

Joint physical custody, on the other hand, means responsibility is split between the two parents. This does not mean custody is split equally. Rather, it is more of a legal term that directly outlines the responsibilities and rights of each parent. This means that parents who are better able to communicate with relative cooperation will have a better chance of obtaining joint custody.

Legal Custody in Minnesota

Legal custody is defined as a parent’s legal right to determine a child’s upbringing. In other words, the law identifies whether a parent has a say in how the children are to be raised. This includes decisions regarding religion, education, and healthcare. Like physical custody, there are two types of legal custody outlined under Minnesota law.

Joint legal custody means both parents are able to decide how to raise the children. Sole legal custody awards that authority to only one parent, whereas the other adult has no legal say in the matter. Unlike physical custody, the law assumes joint legal custody is frequently the best solution in the interest of providing the best outcome for the children. The exception lies in cases of domestic abuse occurring between the parents or when the parties are completely incapable of cooperation and efficient communication.

If you live in the Burnsville area and find yourself in need of a child custody attorney to help with your child custody case, please reach out to our lawyers at Gilbert Alden PLLC.

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