What’s the Difference Between Physical and Legal Custody in Minnesota?

The phrase “custody” is used to describe the obligations, and rights, of parents regarding the care of their children. Child custody issues come about when an unmarried couple has a child together, or when married parents get a divorce. The two types of child custody in Minnesota are physical custody and legal custody. Legal custody involves a parent being able to make decisions regarding the child’s upbringing and well-being (religion, … Read More

Parenting Plans: An Option for Minnesota Custody Disputes

Once a divorce or paternity action has been initiated, physical and legal custody issues may arise, along with a need to determine the appropriate parenting time schedule. Rather than fighting over custody labels, Minnesota law allows the litigants to simply enter into an agreement called a “Parenting Plan.” The details of a Parenting Plan are finalized by the parents themselves, and are not based on an Order of the Court; Judges have no … Read More

What are the Differences Between Judges, Family Law Referees and Child Support Magistrates?

In Minnesota, family law matters are typically handled either by a family court judge, referee, or child support magistrate.  There are minor variations in the legal authority and responsibilities of each such official, and there is also some variation in the types of cases that they preside over.  Most family court hearings in Minnesota are presided over by judges. A family court referee may get involved, but only in certain counties that … Read More

Minnesota’s Social Early Neutral Evaluation Model for Divorce and Paternity Cases

More than 95% of the cases we handle settle short of trial. When custody issues are involved, many of our clients participate in a process known as social early neutral evaluation - an SENE. In a social early neutral evaluation, the lawyers and clients will meet with a pair of evaluators. These individuals are usually social workers, custody evaluators, or experienced family law practitioners. The team will consist of one male and one female, … Read More

Contempt in Minnesota: Consequences of Ignoring Court Orders

The court is responsible for controlling the conduct that occurs within its doors, but also has to deal with issues outside of the courtroom when it comes to family matters. It is typical for a contempt motion to be made in a family law case when one party has violated an order of the court, such as an order to pay child support, spousal maintenance, or a parenting time arrangement. The contempt rules are rather strict, in an effort to … Read More

Podcast: Establishing Physical & Legal Custody Under Minnesota’s Best Interest Standard

In this edition of The Family Law Show, we offer an overview of the standards Minnesota judges use in determining the physical and legal custody of children. Custody is an emotionally-charged issue, with a lot of uncertainty for parents and kids. Topics in this podcast include the difference between physical custody and legal custody, joint custody as compared to sole custody, the "best interest of the child" factors and the key facts … Read More

The Benefits Of Working With A Parenting Time Expeditor

Under Minnesota law, the parties, or the court, can seek the appointment of a parenting time expeditor as part of a divorce or paternity proceeding. Parenting time expeditors can save the parties time and moneyby keeping parenting time disputes out of the court system entirely. No attorney to pay. No motion filing fee to pay. No two-month waiting period to speak with a judge. A parenting time expeditor works to resolve parenting time disputes … Read More

Give Yourself The Advantage: Tips For Dealing With Custody Evaluators

Child custody can be a controversial issue; it is common for both parents to want physical custody - or for one parent to seek sole custody over a joint custody arrangement. The disagreements can go on and on, and that means the court has to intervene with the custody evaluation process. A custody evaluator is appointed, or hired, to review the situation and create a report that the court uses to determine what is in the best interest of the … Read More

What Do I Have To Prove In Order To Modify Custody?

Modification of the physical custody of a child is one of the more difficult things to do in family court. Although we've successfully moved for modification many times, careful consideration is given as to whether the request should be brought in the first place. When the court deals with physical custody the first time around, the "best interest of the child" standard applies. The judge takes into account 13 factors, such as who has served … Read More

Candid Advice From A Guardian Ad Litem

The Minnesota Guardian Ad Litem Program provides advocates who represent the best interests of abused and neglected children in court. They play a pivotal investigative role in protective services cases, and other situations involving allegations of endangerment of a child. The Minnesota courts web site provides a number of resources for litigants who may encounter a Guardian Ad Litem as part of their case: Online GAL Brochure, in English, … Read More