St. Paul Child Custody Lawyers
Twin Cities Family Law Attorneys
When parents separate, custody of the children is often one of their most important concerns. Parents may be anxious to ensure that they will stay actively involved in their children’s lives and upbringing. They may also worry that child custody will become a “football” in a contentious divorce, a way to hurt one another rather than protect the best interests of the children. And parents worried about money may believe child custody will be a deciding factor in support and maintenance orders.
At the St. Paul law office of Krug & Zupke, we understand that this is an anxious time for parents. We have practiced law since 1984, so we have substantial experience handling child custody and other family law matters. We can represent clients in anything from an uncontested, relatively simple divorce to a complex, contentious case involving a trial. In all family law matters, we strive to really listen to our clients and take that knowledge to the court or the negotiating table, to meet our clients’ most important parenting goals. Contact us online today or call 651-645-7746 for a consultation.
How Minnesota Courts Divide Child Custody
When we talk about child custody in Minnesota, we’re really talking about two types of custody. Legal custody is the right to make basic decisions about the child, including health care, education, religion or permission to marry or join the military. Physical custody is the right to live with the child and parent from day to day — to make sure the child is supervised and taken care of.
Usually, both parents will share legal custody, but dividing physical custody can be complicated. Parents who can agree are encouraged to draw up a parenting plan together, with help from their Minneapolis child custody lawyers, to determine how much time the child spends with each parent and when. This could vary dramatically depending on work schedules, the child’s age and the distance between the parents’ homes. A family court judge must approve this parenting plan. When parents cannot agree, custody will be determined by the court — or, sometimes, in a special alternative dispute resolution case called a mediation.
Parents often come to our St. Paul child custody attorneys worried that the courts will automatically award the other parent custody because of gender, income or another arbitrary factor. In fact, Minnesota courts are required to divide custody according to the best interests of the children. To determine this, they may look at each parent’s caregiving duties; proximity to the child’s school and friends; fitness as a parent; ability to share parenting time and more. If the child is 12 or older, the court may take his or her preference into account as well. In joint physical custody cases, the parent who is not given the majority of the time with the child should still get some parenting time, also known as visitation.
Our Minnesota child custody lawyers can represent your interests, and your child’s interests, in any type of custody matter. If you’re drawing up a parenting plan, we can advise you on what is common, what is fair and what is likely to be approved by the court. If you need to go to mediation or court, we put your best foot forward and ensure that judges understand the many important factors going into the decision.
Changing a Custody Order
The courts understand that children get older and circumstances change. That’s why Minnesota law allows you to petition for a change in custody based on a substantial change in circumstances. This could be a change for you, the other parent or the child, such as:
- One parent moves far away
- One parent remarries or has more children
- One parent’s work schedule changes dramatically
- The child begins getting more involved with activities, school or friends as he or she gets older
- One parent consistently interferes with the other parent’s legal right to see the child
- One parent is concerned about the child’s safety with the other parent
To get your custody order changed, either parent will need to petition the court. In an uncontested matter, this may be as simple as submitting paperwork to the court. Even if you can both agree on the change and have already been following your new plan, remember that you’re not legally protected until your court order changes — that is, the other parent can change his or her mind anytime and attempt to get you in trouble for failing to follow the old court order. If the other parent fights your request for a change, the court may hold a hearing. You can and should be represented at this hearing by an experienced St. Paul child custody attorney.
Experienced Minneapolis Child Custody Lawyers
Krug & Zupke, P.C., represents families across Minnesota that need help creating or modifying a child custody order that respects their parenting rights and their schedules. To learn more about us or tell us about your case, call today for a consultation at 651-645-7746 or send us an email.