Child Custody

Thoughtful, Trustworthy Counsel in Child Custody Disputes

Attorney Kathleen O’Connor has helped resolve hundreds of child custody issues in Minnesota.  With decades of experience in family law, Ms. O’Connor is ready to evaluate your case and guide you in finding the most appropriate legal solutions for your child.

When Do You Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

Child custody must be handled properly in the beginning even if parties are still getting along as the initial designation often determines whether and how changes can be made in the future. These initial determinations are made as part of divorce proceedings, child custody proceedings (unmarried parents where a recognition of paternity has been signed), paternity actions and sometimes in domestic abuse cases. The issue of modificaiton of custody arises in all of these types of cases as well. Kathleen O’Connor has experience in all of these scenarios.

How Does Court Determine Child Custody?

Under Minnesota law, there are two types of custody: legal and physical. Legal cutody is input into major decisions in the areas of medical, religious and education. Physical custody is closely tied to parenting time and focuses on where the child should live. Custody can be joint or sole and with respect to physical custody joint custody is not required to be equal.

Minnesota courts are required to apply the folllowing  twelve factors from Minn. Stat. 518.17 :

Subdivision 1: Best interests of the child (a) In evaluating the best interests of the child for purposes of determining issues of custody and parenting time, the court must consider and evaluate all relevant factors, including:

  1. A child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development;
  2. Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services;
  3. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference;
  4. Whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 01, has occurred in the parents’ or either parent’s household or relationship; the nature and context of the domestic abuse; and the implications of the domestic abuse for parenting and for the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs;
  5. Any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child’s safety or developmental needs;
  6. The history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child;
  7. The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time;
  8. The effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community;
  9. The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life;
  10. The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent;
  11. Except in cases in which domestic abuse as described in clause (4) has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent; and
  12. The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child.

Minnesota Statute 518.17 (b) provides instructions to the Court in application of the factors as well setting forth a rebuttable presumptions relating to joint custody. Namely that there is a rebuttable presumption that “joint legal custody is in the best interests of the child. However, the Court shall use a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody or joint physical custody is not in the best interests of the child if domestic abuse as defined in section 518B.01 has occurred between the parents.

In applying the above factors, Minnesota law (Minn. Stat. 518.175) provides for a rebuttable presumption of 25% parenting time for a parent.

Modifications from the initial custody determination are decided by the Court by applying Minn. Stat. 518.18, which contains specific time limits and requirements making it very important to consult with an attorney.

Why Hire O’Connor Law and Mediation PLLC?

Every child custody issue is unique and requires application of the Minnestoat Law and the presumptions contained in it. Kathleen O’Connor, makes sure to approach your situation in a way that keeps your desire for parenting time and your child’s best interests in mind. She utilizes her deep knowledge of the law and years of experience navigating through the state’s legal system to achieve the best possible outcome for your particular situation.

To arrange a no-cost, no-obligation 30-minute initial consultation with O’Connor Law and Mediation PLLC, Kathleen E. Rusler O’Connor, Attorney at Law, call 952-529-1691 or fill out the contact form.