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A Quick Overview of Minnesota Child Custody Laws

Many situations exist in which adults in Minnesota find themselves grappling with the legal and practical complexities of child custody matters. Thankfully, although custody laws vary from state to state, Minnesota child custody laws are typically straightforward and aim to operate as fairly as possible.

Types of Child Custody

Throughout the country, courts recognize four basic types of child custody: physical custody, legal custody, sole custody and joint custody.

Physical custody - Physical custody means that the child lives with a parent. One or both parents may have physical custody. Joint physical custody means both parents have the child live with them for significant amounts of time, although these time periods may or may not be equal in length throughout the year.

Legal custody - Legal custody means a parent has the legal right to make decisions for a minor child (religion, schooling and medical decisions, for example). Oftentimes joint legal custody is granted so both parents have the right to make decisions together on behalf of the child's well-being.

Sole custody - Sole custody means one parent is awarded sole physical and/or legal custody of a child. This means that one parent alone has either rights to lengthy physical possession of a child and/or to make legal decisions on a child's behalf.

Joint custody - Joint custody means both parents retain rights to the child(ren). Joint custody can be legal only, physical only or both, and can be awarded in cases of divorce, separation or non-cohabitation.

In Minnesota, courts recognize the two basic types of child custody: legal and physical custody, with one or both parents being awarded one or both depending on the situation.

Other Minnesota Child Custody Laws

Minnesota courts generally do their best to ensure the best interest of the child in deciding parental rights in custody cases. When custody is contested or someone requests it, an investigation may be made into a child's custodial arrangement. Minnesota courts also recognize grandparents' visitation rights.

The law is an ever-changing entity that can be confusing at best. If you find yourself in the midst of a child custody situation, you may benefit from contacting an attorney who can help you make sense of it all in order to better ensure the best possible outcome.

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