When parents decide to get a divorce, one of their primary concerns is determining who will have custody of the children. In some cases, parents are able to come to an agreement that works for the entire family, without ever setting foot in a courtroom. Other times, parents are unable to agree and need a judge to set the terms of the custody arrangement after hearing both sides.
In any case, before a judge can approve a parenting agreement, he or she will need to make sure that the terms of the agreement are in the best interest of the child. Under Minnesota Stat. Sec. 518.17, there are many factors to considering whether the best interests of the child are being met. Generally, the court will first consider the child’s needs on every level, including physical, emotional, and spiritual needs, as well as any special medical or educational needs. If the child is old enough and mature enough in the eyes of the court, they may get to voice their preference as to which parent they would like to primarily live with. The courts will also consider whether the child is safe and thriving in their current environment and determine whether they would be negatively affected by changes to their school or community.
The family law court will also take a close look at the parents of the child. The court will consider each parent’s physical and mental health, as well as the parent’s prior involvement in the child’s life. The court will also look at whether the child would be positively impacted by spending more time with one parent over the other, or whether they would be better off spending an equal amount of time with each parent. Additionally, the court will consider the child’s relationships with siblings and other family members, as well as the ability of the parents to work together to resolve disputes regarding the child.
It is important to remember that the courts will always strive to provide the best interest of the child, regardless of the wishes of the parents. Having a lawyer to navigate you through the custody determination process can be extremely beneficial.