Parents love their children and naturally want the best for them. When parents separate or divorce, this means that the parents must arrange for a living situation that is in the children's best interest. This may mean that the children spend time living with both parents, or, children may live with one parent and visit the other from time to time. If you are going through a divorce, or want to know more about the child custody process, we've provided some information on the basics of a child custody case in Minneapolis.
When is child custody an issue?
Minneapolis parents commonly face child custody issues when two situations arise. The most common is divorce. During the divorce process, the parents or the court will decide who the children will live with. If the divorcing spouses are on relatively good terms, agreeing to a child custody arrangement can make the child custody and divorce process smoother. Otherwise, if the parents disagree on custody, each will have to present their side to the court, and the judge will decide on custody.
Child custody may also come up when a child is born to unmarried parents who do not live together. Although paternity is assumed at birth for married parents, paternity is not assumed when the parents are not married. If the parents do not complete a Declaration of Paternity at the hospital when the child is born, they have the option of filling out the form at a later date, as well. If a parent is not cooperative, genetic testing is an option.
How does a child custody case start, and what is the process like?
A child custody case will begin with a petition , which is a request for the court to make a child custody determination. In Minneapolis, the petition is filed with the 4th District Family Court. After one parent files the petition, the other parent has the opportunity to file an answer, which may agree or disagree with parts of the petition.
Once the answer is filed, the court will hold a number of hearings. The judge will want to know information about the parents' income, living situation, and anything about drug use or violence. The judge will also assign a guardian ad litem to the children. The guardian is an impartial court officer, which means that he or she does not favor one parent or the other. The guardian's main role is to ensure that the eventual child custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child.
The judge may also issue a temporary custody order. This will establish the custody of the children during the court process. Often, as long as it is safe for the children, the judge will maintain the child custody arrangement the parents already have.
What types of custody are there?
There are two types of child custody in Minnesota . Legal custody gives a parent the right to make important decisions in the child's life. Physical custody means that the child lives with the parent. If parents share custody, it's called joint custody. When only one parent has custody, it's called sole custody. For example, when a child lives with one parent, but both parents can make decisions for the child, one parent has sole physical custody, and they share joint legal custody.
Will I have to pay child support?
Courts determine child custody and child support separately. If the parents have joint physical custody, earn roughly the same amount, and share their child's expenses, child support may not be much of an issue. However, if the child lives with one parent who pays for most of the child's expenses, the noncustodial parent will likely be ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent.
What about visitation?
You may be wondering about visitation rights may be an option for Minneapolis parents who do not have physical custody of their children. This means that a parent has the right to spend time with the child even though the child does not live with that parent. In some cases, visitation will have to be supervised by the custodial parent, or another person assigned by the court. Please note that simply paying child support does not guarantee that a parent will get custody or visitation rights.
What about emergencies and unsafe living situations?
In a child custody case, one of the first things a court will decide is whether the child is in a safe living situation. The court will issue a temporary child custody order, which establishes custody for the duration of the child custody case. The Minneapolis Family Court also has the option of an emergency child custody order. When considering an emergency child custody order, the court only needs to hear from one of the parents.
There are situations in which a court will not grant custody to either parent. This is most common when drugs, alcohol, or domestic violence are involved. A court may find that it is in the children's best interests to live with someone else. If neither parent has custody of the children and circumstances substantially change, the parents can request a child custody modification. The modification process is very similar to the initial custody process.
Get Legal Help with Your Minneapolis Child Custody Case
There are attorneys in Minneapolis who specialize in family law issues. Consulting with one of these attorneys can make the child custody process a lot smoother, and can ensure that you have someone with experience advocating for your rights as a parent. If you want to learn more, contact a child custody lawyer in Minnesota today.