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How does divorce affect child custody in Minnesota?

When people in Minnesota choose to end their marriage, one of the most common and heart-wrenching issues they have to deal with has to do with child custody. There is a great deal of emotions and confusion when it comes to where the children will live, how the visitation rights will be organized and what the allocation of parenting time will be. The fear that many parents harbor can be assuaged by gathering accurate and relevant information as to how the law in Minnesota views child custody.

There are numerous issues that lead to disagreements and disputes regarding child custody. It crops up, naturally, when there is a divorce. It can also arise when there are allegations of domestic abuse, paternity, third party guardianship and the possibility that protective services need to get involved to watch for the best interests of the child. Under Minnesota law, there are different types of custody -- physical and legal custody.

In Minnesota, visitation is often called parenting time. In some instances, parents are able to come to an amicable agreement as to how parenting time will be organized. In others, the court will have to set guidelines that must be followed. If court orders aren't adhered to, a parent can take legal steps to set things right.

However, people must be remembered that in order for a child custody case to be heard in Minnesota, the child must have lived in the state with a parent, or person acting as a parent, for at least six months. If it is an emergency, there is the possibility for exceptions to this rule.

While it is referenced as the most important aspect of a child custody situation, parents frequently lose sight of the entire reason for the dispute in the first place -- the best interests of the child. If parents choose to use the child as a weapon to gain revenge or hurt the other parent, the entire situation can spiral out of control with no winners. A perfect scenario in a difficult situation is both parents sharing custody. Obviously, that's not always possible and depends on the circumstances of the split.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Basics on Child Custody & Parenting Time," Accessed July 28, 2014

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