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How is Minnesota child custody determined?

A divorce can be complicated and stressful for a Minnesota couple, especially if children are involved. In an ideal world, both parents would be able to see their children an equal amount of time. However, this type of arrangement -- joint custody -- requires a significant amount of cooperation and communication between the parents, and after a divorce, this is generally not possible. The most common child custody arrangement involves one parent having primary physical custody, with both parents sharing legal custody. How is custody determined after a divorce?

For courts, the main consideration is the best interests of the child. There is usually one parent who is the child's primary caretaker. This could be the parent who stays at home and takes care of the child's needs while the other parent works. If both parents work, which parents cooks, takes the child to the doctor, does the laundry, purchases clothing, teaches the child basic skills and helps with bathing, dressing and grooming? Whichever parent does the majority of child rearing functions is more likely to receive physical custody of the child.

However, this is not the only factor. If the child is able to express his or her wishes as to which parent he or she would like to live with, then the judge may take this into consideration. The courts will also look at the parents' health, stable living environment, substance abuse, sex abuse and the child's relationship with each parent. The child's age and gender is also taken into consideration.

There are many factors to determine when awarding custody. Ideally, parents would agree on this decision themselves, but it's a huge decision and there is a lot at stake. A custody decision will forever change the lives of both the parents and children, so it's not something that should be taken lightly.

Source:," Child Custody Basics," accessed on Sept. 20. 2014

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