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Tensions running high in bitter Minnesota custody battle

Child custody disputes arise when two or more parties are invested in the future of their child(ren). Sadly, the drive to preserve a family can lead to bitter fractures within it. Even the strongest families can find themselves torn asunder by a hotly contested custody case.

This drama is not always limited to a child's parents. Such is the case with Emma Cox, a two-year-old at the heart of a bitter custody battle in Fergus Falls. She lost both of her parents in a tragic murder-suicide in 2011. Now, her grandparents on each side are vying for custody.

These families, both of whom are mourning the loss of a child, each want to play a major role in raising Emma. Her father's parents have spent time raising her but her maternal grandmother does have visitation rights. In court, allegations of drug abuse and mental health issues against her maternal grandmother have highlighted the tension and mistrust between the families.

Best interests of the child

There is no jury in the case, so the final decision will be up to the Judge, Wally Senak of Fergus Falls. In making his custody and visitation determination, Judge Senyk will consider what arrangement would be in Emma's best interests.

Minnesota courts consider 13 factors in determining where the child's best interests will be served. These factors include the child's primary caretaker, the child's relationship to each parent and those associated with them, and each party's mental and physical health. When the child is mature enough to express a reasonable preference, courts may consider that as well.

To learn more about child custody determinations and grandparents' rights, visit our Child Custody and Visitation page.

Source: WDAY News 6, "Bitter custody battle rages to decide fate of baby girl left behind by tragedy," 08/28/12

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