Child custody is a complex issue. When parents dissolve a marriage, if they can’t agree on whom the children will live with, then the court must decide. How is that determined? Several factors are considered.
• The most important concerns are the interests of the child. Historically, that weighted a court’s decision in favor of the mother. In recent years, gender equity has shifted legal priorities.
• If either parent relinquishes custodial rights or requests the other parent have sole custody, then that is considered.
• Where things get sticky is when both parents insist on having sole custody. In that case, the court must settle the matter. Often, the decision boils down to which parent is better able to provide for education, medical attention, a suitable lifestyle, and connection to the family religion.
◦ Finances – Which parent has the better job, most stable employment, and/or highest income or savings?
◦ Living Situation – Has either parent remarried, or is there another romantic partner in the picture? What kind of living conditions will the children be subjected to? Has one of the parents moved out of the area?
◦ Religion – Who is better able to provide stable religious training? If parents are of different religions, have they chosen to educate the children in one religion over the other? If one parent is religious, and the other isn’t, the court may consider that in light of other factors.
◦ Dangers – Has either parent been convicted of a crime or abused drugs or alcohol? Are there other concerns, such as a history of abusive behavior or a volatile home environment?
Courts rarely award legal custody to step-parents; however, it does happen. All things are considered in light of the best interests of the child.
Are you fighting for custody of your children? Contact an experienced Minnesota custody lawyer at 763-323-6555 for a private, confidential consultation.