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Our Minnesota child custody lawyers have guided countless families in finding effective solutions that address the physical and legal custody of children in divorce cases and other legal circumstances.

However, this is just one type of situation that can involve the care of children or even adults, in some cases. Anyone who is responsible for the care of other people needs to be aware of all special legal relationships that may be required to protect their charges.

Child Custody Establishes a Parent-Like Role Between Adults and Children

The concept of child custody brings divorce cases to mind and divorce is certainly the most common reason for deciding these issues. The Minnesota Judicial Branch explains that child custody establishes whether the children will primarily reside with one parent or split primary residences with both parents (physical custody), but it generally establishes joint legal custody. This means that both parties share important decisions pertaining to such issues as education, health care and religious training.

Custody does not necessarily pertain only to parents and their children. Other individuals may seek custody of children for any number of reasons, such as the following:

  • Relatives who care for orphaned children most likely need to arrange for custody even if they do not choose to adopt the children.
  • Grandparents who provide daily care for children even though the biological parents are living as is a common situation when the natural parents are too young to take on the responsibilities.
  • Any person might seek to provide permanent protection to children living in unacceptable family situations, which can involve issues such as parental drug abuse.

Guardianship Establishes a Decision-Making Relationship

As explained in Conservatorship and Guardianship in Minnesota, a manual published by the Minnesota Conference of Chief Judges, in essence, guardianship establishes a legal relationship between a decision-maker and a person found by the courts to be unable to make their own independent decisions (incapacity).

Although it is possible for guardians to live with the people under their protection (wards), their overall purpose is to make decisions about many issues, such as where to live, medical concerns and more.

They are also required to issue regular reports to the courts throughout the lifetime of the guardianship. In some cases, a separate individual is appointed as a conservator to make financial decisions for a person under their protection (conservatee).

One important point: no matter what type of custody arrangements parents may have for minor children, additional arrangements are required when children with incapacities reach the age of majority.

It is often essential to involve the courts to ensure that the parents retain control when their children become legal adults — and that other individuals, such as siblings, relatives or other trusted individuals can take on the responsibility over the individual’s lifetime.

An experienced Minnesota family lawyer can help guide families through the legal process required to protect the children throughout their lives. Call us at (763) 783-5146 or use our convenient contact form to learn more about the often-complex considerations.