In Minnesota, the guiding principle in child custody matters is always the best interests of the child. The reasons for this are fairly obvious. Children must be cared for, they are more vulnerable than adults in the divorce process, and they are not the ones who chose to end the marriage.
But parents do have important rights when it comes to making child custody determinations. Parents have the right to express their wishes to the court, regarding child custody. They also have the right to participate in the process, to testify in court, and to voice their concerns.
Minnesota courts look at a variety of factors when determining what is in the child’s best interests when making child custody decisions. These include the child’s physical and emotional needs, any special needs, and each parent’s history of participating in the child’s care. The court can take the child’s preference into account, if the child is mature enough to express a reliable preference, independent of parental pressure. The court will also consider each parent’s willingness to cooperate in raising the child, and to support the child’s relationship with the other parent.
The court does not make these determinations in a vacuum. The judge will listen to testimony from the parents, and the parents have the right to voice their opinions as to the factors the court is required to consider.
At Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., we have represented numerous parents in child custody and visitation matters. We recognize that while the child’s best interests are the touchstone for custody determinations, parents’ voices can and must be heard. You can learn more about how we can help Minnesota parents dealing with this difficult process on our Eagan child custody lawyer web page.