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Understanding child custody in Minnesota

In general, Minnesota law provides for two types of child custody. Minnesota recognizes two types of child custody, including legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody includes the right to make decisions concerning how to raise the child. Important decisions can include decisions related to the education, health care and religious training of the child. Physical custody includes the right to makes decisions concerning where the child lives and the daily activities of the child.

Parents may share joint legal or physical custody. Certain factors may contribute to parents sharing custody, however, one parent may also have sole custody of the child. When parents share joint legal custody, both parents participate in decision making regarding how the child is raised. When parents share joint legal custody, parents will share in the responsibility of decision making concerning the child's education, health care and religious training. When parents share joint physical custody both parties participate in the structuring the routine daily care and living arrangements of the child.

Whenever possible, it is helpful for parents to be able to work together to reach child custody agreements and agreements related to parenting time that are in the best interests of the child. Because the court will focus on the best interests of the child when making child custody determinations, parents can save emotional and economic stress by working together to develop a child custody and parenting plan. The family law process provides different options for families and by focusing on the best interests of the child, parents will be able to develop child custody agreements that work best for their family and circumstances.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Child Custody & Parenting," Accessed Aug. 12, 2015

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