Can Child Support Be Taken from a Personal Injury Settlement in Brainerd, Minnesota?

Are you one of the many people who received a personal injury settlement in Brainerd, MN this year? Do you pay child support? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, you may be wondering: can a court deduct child support from a personal injury settlement in Brainerd?

The only time child support could take away your personal injury settlement money is if that settlement can be considered income. A child support lawyer who also understands personal injury settlements can help you determine if your recovered damages are income or not.

We also want to lend you a hand in knowing what to expect. That’s why we created this guide. Learn more about personal injury settlements in Brainerd and child support payments below, and stick around to find out where to find the best child support attorney in Brainerd, Minnesota.

When Is a Settlement Considered Personal Income?

Not all personal injury settlements are the same.

Some settlements, called compensatory settlements, pay back the plaintiff for any expenses incurred due to the accident. These expenses may include your medical bills, property loss, or compensation for pain and suffering.

Other settlements are non-compensatory, also known as punitive settlements. These settlements don’t pay anything back and are typically awarded on top of the compensatory settlement.

A settlement isn’t considered gross personal income if it’s intended to repay the injured party’s medical bills or recover money lost to property damage. Most other types of personal injury settlements may be considered personal income in Minnesota.

Exactly which settlements does Minnesota consider personal income and, therefore, leverageable for child support payments? We’re talking about three of them next.

Settlement Payouts

A plaintiff can pay out a settlement in two different ways: via a lump sum or regular payments. You need to know which type of settlement you’re receiving to know if it counts as income or not.

In general, the state of Minnesota wouldn’t consider a lump sum settlement income. When a victim receives his or her settlement as monthly payments or otherwise regular installments, Minnesota may consider the payments as income.

Settlements paid in installments may accrue interest. While child support may be able to leverage the payments themselves, any interest accrued isn’t considered income.

The best way to know for sure if your settlement payments are personal income is to call a child support attorney near you.

Lost Wages

Did you miss work while you were recovering from your injury? Did you receive a settlement to compensate you for the wages you lost from not working? If the answer to both of these questions is yes, your settlement may be considered personal income.

Why? When a court designates a portion of your settlement for lost wages, it intends for that amount to replace your lost income. That means the settlement is as good as your regular income.

Keep in mind that the judge must explicitly set aside a portion of the settlement to compensate for your lost wages. If the judge doesn’t do this, your personal injury award likely won’t count as income.

Again, the best way to know for sure if child support can take your settlement for lost wages is to call a local family lawyer.

Punitive Damages

So far, we’ve only talked about compensatory damages. Judges award compensatory damages to make up for financial losses to the injured party due to the accident.

But compensatory damages aren’t the only type of personal injury settlement. In some rare cases, judges may order the defendant to pay punitive damages. The goal of punitive damages is to punish the defendant for his or her actions, not to repay the plaintiff.

Did a judge order the defendant to pay punitive damages in your personal injury case? If so, that portion of your settlement may qualify as income.

Additional Factors Affecting Child Support Payments from Settlements

Whether child support can leverage your personal injury settlement doesn’t just depend on if it counts as income or not. Minnesota child support laws also dictate a few factors affecting personal injury settlements.

Keep reading to learn more.

You Owe Child Support

If you owe child support in Minnesota, the amount owed can be legally deducted from your personal injury settlement. However, this is only the case if your settlement is a lump sum of $500 or more.

Parenting Time

In Minnesota, child support is determined by the amount of time you spend with your child. If your visitation rights have changed since you received your personal injury settlement, child support may not be able to take money from your settlement.

The Child’s Needs

The number one factor in determining child support payments in Minnesota is your child’s need.

For example, imagine that you’re unable to pay child support due to a personal injury, and you receive a settlement award. If your inability to pay child support negatively impacts your child’s quality of life, you may have to forfeit some of your settlement.

A Minnesota Family Lawyer Can Change Your Child Support Arrangement

Being unable to work due to an injury can affect your personal income. The Minnesota Department of Human Services requires you to contact their office if you lose, change, or get a new job.

Yet, regardless of how much money you’re bringing in, you still have to meet your child support obligations. Even if you’re injured and unable to work, you must pay child support.

The only exception to this rule is if you hire a Minnesota child support lawyer to help you change your child support arrangement. Your attorney will first have to prove one of the following:

  • You experienced a substantial decrease in income, substantial meaning approximately a 20% decrease in income
  • Your child has experienced a substantial decrease in his or her monthly cost of living
  • Your child has experienced a substantial decrease in childcare costs
  • Your child emancipated

In these cases, an experienced child support attorney can request that a judge grant you a temporary modification. This will allow you to pay a smaller monthly amount or put your child support payments on pause altogether.

The Consequences of Not Paying Child Support in Brainerd

If you owe child support and get a personal injury settlement in Brainerd, the good news is that the amount will be automatically taken from your lump sum. But what happens if you forget or don’t want to pay the child support you owe?

Here are the consequences of not paying child support.

Deducting Child Support from Your Tax Return

Are you owed a refund from your federal or state income taxes or property taxes? Failing to pay child support means the state of Minnesota could deduct what you owe from your tax refund.

Rejecting Student Loan Applications

Are you planning to apply to college or a university? Do you want to apply for grants to cover your tuition? If you owe child support, schools have the right to deny your application for student grants.


When you owe child support, the money you owe is called arrears. And if you have arrears, Minnesota could apply interest to the amount you owe. That means you’ll have to pay the child support you owe, plus any interest that accrued on payments in arrears.

Credit Score Hit

Owing child support is similar to having any debt. How so? Your child support debt can be submitted to national credit reporting agencies, which could then negatively impact your credit.

Having poor credit can wreak havoc on your life, from making it difficult to find housing to being ineligible for loans and lines of credit.

Passports and Licenses

Owing child support money can also impact your ability to get a passport. Not paying child support can also mean you won’t be able to get certain licenses renewed or even have them suspended. This includes the following licenses:

  • Driver’s license
  • Occupational license
  • Recreational license

Don’t want to deal with these consequences of not paying child support? Then you need to call a child support attorney ASAP.

Can Child Support Take Your Worker’s Compensation?

A related question here is regarding worker’s compensation. If you were injured at work, you might receive not only a personal injury settlement but also a worker’s compensation check. Child support can also take money from your worker’s compensation.

Child support treats worker’s compensation like it does regular income. The only difference is that the amount you have to pay out from your compensation is less than your regular payments. The exact amount you’ll have to pay depends on whether you’re on:

  • Temporary total disability benefits
  • Temporary partial disability benefits
  • Permanent total disability benefits

As with personal injury settlement in Brainerd, a child support attorney can help you determine what you’ll owe before you owe it. And, in some cases, your child support lawyer may also be able to help you get your child support payments suspended until you’re feeling better.

Call a Brainerd, Minnesota Child Support Lawyer

Child support could deduct money from your personal injury settlement if it’s considered personal income. Other factors affecting whether settlement funds are leverageable for child support include whether you have any amount in arrears and what’s best for your child.

You don’t want to deal with the consequences of owing child support in Brainerd, Minnesota. That’s why you need the best child support lawyer around. Call Carlson & Jones today for a free consultation with our experienced family lawyers.

How to Find a Good Criminal Defense Attorney in Brainerd, Minnesota

Are you one of the many Minnesotans who were charged with a crime in 2020? Then you may be in the market for a criminal defense attorney who can help defend your rights.

Finding good Brainerd, Minnesota criminal defense is easier said than done, though. That’s why we’re bringing you this guide.

Below, we’ll explain the difference between criminal and civil attorneys, discuss the exact type of criminal defense lawyer you need, and guide you through some qualities to look for. Keep reading for everything you need to know.

Criminal vs. Civil Attorneys

In the United States, we generally distinguish between two types of law: criminal and civil law. Criminal laws apply after someone breaks US law and/or commits a crime. Civil laws apply to almost all other legal cases.

You can also differentiate between criminal vs. civil cases based on the outcome. A criminal conviction can result in jail or even prison time. Meanwhile, in civil cases, the defendant usually seeks compensation, but neither jail nor prison time is on the table.

Both criminal cases and civil cases can end either with settlement or trial. However, the government usually brings criminal cases. Individual people or private organizations typically file civil lawsuits.

In most states, criminal lawyers do not try civil cases and vice versa. But there have been cases where a defendant receives a criminal and civil charge for the same offense. In some states, there are even different judges for criminal vs. civil cases; Minnesota isn’t one of those states, though.

Of course, there are additional differences between criminal and civil cases and attorneys in Minnesota. But these differences are beyond the scope of this article.

What Kind of Criminal Defense Attorney Do You Need?

By now, you should know that you need a criminal defense lawyer to take your case. But to complicate matters worse, there are many different types of defense attorneys who specialize in different criminal charges.

For example, consider the most common criminal charges: property crimes (e.g., theft and arson), drug and alcohol crimes (e.g., DWI and drug possession), violent crimes (e.g., assault), and fraud (e.g., identity theft and business fraud).

For each of these crimes, there’s an attorney who specializes in defending against it. That’s why some attorneys market themselves as DUI lawyers while others will specialize in assault or fraud.

In sum, the type of criminal defense attorney you need is the one who specializes in the crime you were charged with. Not only that, you should choose an attorney who has an extensive success record of getting offenders like you the best possible outcome.

What other qualities should your criminal lawyer have? We’re talking about those next, so keep reading.

Qualities to Look for in Good Criminal Defense Attorneys

The first thing you should do before hiring any lawyer is to check his or her credentials. Here are some resources to help you do just that:

Otherwise, here are the top qualities your chosen criminal attorney should possess.

Local Experience

In most cases, criminal charges go to district courts first. In Minnesota, there are 10 judicial courts to cover Minnesota’s 87 counties and about 289 judges who hear both criminal and civil cases.

Why does that matter? It’s important to choose an attorney who has experience with your local district court system. A local attorney will know court judges and prosecutors, as well as their habits. Having this knowledge can help get you a more favorable outcome.

Plus, your attorney’s local knowledge can help you understand what to (and what not to) expect from your case.

Strong Reputation

The biggest difference between a high-quality attorney and an average one is success rate. And what’s the best way to determine a lawyer’s success rate? A good professional reputation can help.

To learn more about how the legal community views an attorney, you can use the resources we listed above.

Also, check the criminal attorney’s website. Ann Attorney of the Year designation or SuperLawyers insignia is an excellent sign you’re dealing with a reputable professional.

Another good strategy for finding criminal lawyers with strong reputations is to read online reviews and ask for references. We’ll touch more on this later.

Responsive Communication

In Minnesota, criminal charges are serious matters. Immediate action is the best action, and you don’t want to be waiting around for your criminal attorney to get back to you. That’s why hiring a lawyer who communicates responsively is critical.

But how exactly can you determine a lawyer’s communication style? First, it’s important to schedule a consultation, so you can meet with him or her face to face. It’s a bad sign if a lawyer’s office doesn’t return your call promptly or is difficult to get ahold of.

Secondly, pay attention to how the criminal attorney speaks to you during the consultation. Does he or she answer all your questions and explain concepts thoroughly? If the criminal lawyer you’re researching fails either of the above tests, keep searching.

Aggressive Representation

When you’re searching for a Minnesota criminal attorney, you might come across lawyers who advertise themselves as aggressive. You don’t want an aggressive lawyer. An aggressive lawyer could drag out your case longer than necessary, costing you money.

What you do want is a criminal attorney who uses an aggressive representation style. And what does that mean? Aggressive representation means your lawyer will be ready to aggressively fight when all other reasonable defense methods have failed.

Aggressive legal representation is your best bet for a positive outcome. Plus, aggressive representation styles can usually save you legal fees in the long run.

Transparent Costs

Retaining a criminal attorney isn’t cheap, and your lawyer should know that. That’s why any good criminal attorney should provide a transparent cost structure. In other words, he or she should tell you how much you’ll have to pay for legal services.

Most attorneys charge with either a flat fee or an hourly rate. According to Rule 1.5 of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct, it’s illegal for an attorney to charge a contingent fee for a criminal case.

There are pros and cons to flat fees and hourly rates. Hourly rates are better for simple criminal cases as the total cost of representation can come out cheaper.

However, for more complicated cases (which criminal cases often are), a flat fee can help you understand the total cost of representation and keep costs down. More on this later.

How to Find the Best Criminal Lawyer in Minnesota

So, we’ve guided you through the most important qualities any good criminal attorney should have. But how exactly do you find a lawyer with these characteristics? That’s what we’re talking about next.

Ask for Referrals

Do you know anyone who has been charged with the same crime as you? It’s always a great idea to ask friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances for referrals. No one is going to refer you to an attorney they don’t trust or who didn’t do a good job.

Of course, make sure you’re getting referred to an attorney who specializes in the type of criminal charge you’re facing.

Read Reviews

If you can’t find a referral, the next step is to read online reviews. Check out local criminal attorneys’ websites and read the reviews they’ve posted. Then, compare those reviews to ones you find on third-party sites like Yelp.

Don’t let a few bad reviews scare you away, though. If the overall sentiment is positive, that’s a good sign you’ve found a high-quality defense attorney.

Schedule a Consultation

The next step after reading reviews is to schedule a consultation. Many criminal lawyers offer a free initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose. Of course, make sure you narrow down your attorney picks to a handful of options or, better yet, your top three choices.

During your consultation, remember to ask plenty of questions and pay attention to the attorney’s communication style.

Ask the Right Questions

We just mentioned that you should ask questions during your initial consultation. But it’s hard to know what to ask if you’ve never hired a lawyer before. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:

  • How long have you been practicing in Minnesota?
  • How long have you specialized in the crime I was charged with?
  • What’s your success and failure rate?
  • What’s your communication style?
  • How often should I expect to hear from you?
  • What’s your defense strategy for my case?
  • What kind of outcome can I reasonably expect in my case?
  • What’s your fee structure?
  • If you charge an hourly fee, can you provide a rough estimate of the total cost of representation?
  • If you charge a flat fee, what services are included?

When it comes to criminal law, there are no bad questions. So, make sure you come up with a list of the most important questions you’ve been thinking about and bring them to the consultation.

Get a Free Consultation With the Best Criminal Defense Attorney in Minnesota

If you were arrested for a crime in Minnesota, it’s critical to hire a criminal defense attorney who specializes in the crime you were charged with. Use this guide to help you find the best attorney with the qualities that suit your needs.

Are you searching for the best criminal defense attorney that serves Brainerd, Minnesota? Schedule a free case evaluation with Carlson & Jones to speak with one of our expert criminal defense lawyers.

How Much Does It Cost to Filing a Divorce in Buffalo, Minnesota?

In Minnesota, filing for a divorce is legally referred to as dissolution of marriage. Most Buffalo, Minnesota couples are eligible for dissolution of marriage as long as one or more spouses has been a resident for at least 180 days or about six months. The one exception to the 180-day rule is if one spouse is a Minnesota resident but is discharged in the army.

It’s recommended that divorcing couples seek legal representation. However, Minnesota does allow for pro se representation in a dissolution of marriage cases. That means you don’t have to hire a divorce attorney to dissolve your marriage; you could technically represent yourself.

To start the dissolution of marriage process, you or your attorney must file for divorce. And this is where fees start to come into play. Whether you hire a lawyer or not, you must pay a filing fee to start the divorce process.

In general, your divorce could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $50,000. The exact cost will vary based on a number of factors, including whether your divorce is joint or not and if it’s contested or uncontested.

What other factors determine the total cost of divorce, and is there anything you can do to save money? We’re guiding you through these questions and more next, so keep reading for everything you need to know.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Divorce in MN

Divorce is a lengthier and more complicated process than getting married. And believe it or not, getting your marriage dissolved in Minnesota can cost even more than your wedding. This is especially true when the divorce isn’t joint, meaning only one spouse wants to file.

Here’s why.

Divorce Filing Fee Costs in Minnesota

As we’ve mentioned, each spouse must pay a fee to file for divorce. Each spouse must pay a separate fee, regardless of whether the divorce is joint or not.

You have to file at your county court, and your local court will have its own filing fees. In general, filing for divorce in Minnesota costs about $365, and filing for legal separation or annulment costs $335.

What happens if you can’t afford this filing fee? The state of Minnesota does offer Fee Waivers for some low-income individuals, which allows you to fully or partially waive the filing fee. To qualify, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Your income is 125% below the Federal poverty line, which you can access here
  • You can prove that you can’t afford filing for a divorce using bank statements, your paycheck, public assistance documents, and/or tax returns

You can learn more about the fees to file for divorce at this link. Make sure to choose your county from the dropdown menu to find the correct divorce filing fees.

The Cost to Serve in Minnesota

When only one spouse files for divorce, he or she must have divorce papers served to the other partner. Under Minnesota law, anyone over the age of 18 counts as a process server. Process servers don’t have to be licensed.

In some cases, you may be able to find an adult who will serve the papers for you. That’s the ideal situation because, for example, if you ask a friend or family member for help, you won’t have to pay them.

Otherwise, you will have to pay someone to serve your spouse’s divorce papers. In earlier research, we found that the average process server costs $53.99 while Minnesota county sheriffs charge an average of $75 to serve. Your divorce lawyer may also offer serving services, so make sure to ask him or her during your initial consultation.

Court Fees in Minnesota

Do you and your partner have significant assets or debts? Do you and your partner share children born out of the marriage? And most importantly, is your divorce going to be contested?

If the answer to these questions is yes, your divorce will have to go to trial.

Minnesota marriage dissolutions only go to trial when two spouses can’t agree on one or more divorce terms. This is also known as a contested divorce. In court, the judge overseeing your case will then make decisions about these important matters for you.

Going to divorce court gives spouses less control over their divorce, but it also increases the total cost for divorce. Each time you or your spouse can’t agree on an issue, you’ll have to file a motion with the court. At $75 per motion and $55 to file a return, court fees can start to add up.

Minnesota Divorce Attorney Rates

By now, you may be thinking: there’s no way I can get a divorce for less than $1,000! Well, you’d be correct because the most significant cost factor in Minnesota divorces is your divorce attorney’s fees.

The total cost of representation for your divorce will depend on various factors. These factors include the type of fee your lawyer charges and how many issues you and your spouse can’t agree on.

Contingent fees aren’t common in divorces, especially when you and your spouse don’t have significant assets at stake. In Minnesota, it’s actually illegal to collect any fee in domestic relations matters, including divorce.

Instead, divorce attorneys typically charge hourly or flat fees. Flat fees often mean a lower cost of divorce because the lawyer will quote you the total cost of representation upfront.

But if your divorce is relatively uncomplicated, you may prefer to go with an attorney who charges by the hour. Why? When there are lots of issues you and your spouse need to contest, your divorce will take longer, and your attorney will clock more hours.

In sum, flat fees are better for complicated divorces, while hourly fees may help cut costs during joint divorces. What exactly are joint divorces in Minnesota? We’re defining them for you next.

What Makes Joint Divorce Less Expensive Than Regular Divorce?

Joint divorce occurs when two spouses agree to the dissolution of marriage. Though not required, joint divorcees may also be uncontested. In other words, both spouses agree to compromise on the terms of the dissolution instead of going to court.

As you can imagine, joint, uncontested divorces can cost much less than regular divorces. For one, you don’t have to hire someone to serve divorce papers to the other spouse. Plus, if you can both agree to compromise on things like division of assets and child custody, you’ll also save on court fees.

And we haven’t even mentioned the attorney fees you’ll cut down on by keeping your divorce amicable. Joint divorces allow spouses to enter alternative divorce processes like mediation. In mediation, you and your spouse only need one legal professional — the third-party neutral mediator.

How to Reduce Costs in a Minnesota Divorce

A joint, amicable divorce is preferential. Yet, not all of us have reasonable spouses. Some divorces are bound to end up in court no matter how hard you try.

If this happens to you, you can still cut costs on your divorce. Here are three tips for doing just that.

Keep Appraisal Services to a Minimum

In more complicated divorces, spouses have significant assets on the line. And when these spouses don’t work together, they may argue about the value of these assets. Then, each spouse might hire a professional to appraise their property.

Avoid paying for appraisers at all costs. These professionals can be expensive, adding unnecessary charges to your divorce bill. Instead, try using resources like Kelly Blue Book and your local realtor for free appraising.

Compromise as Often as Possible

Even if you and your spouse aren’t divorcing amicably, we can’t stress enough that you and your spouse should compromise whenever possible. Why? Compromise will keep you out of court, which equates to fewer motion filing fees and lower attorney costs.

Compromising also means your divorce will take less time to finalize. You and your spouse will spend less time arguing and more time getting on with your lives.

Get Your Finances in Order

Did you know that about 50% of a divorce attorney’s job is understanding your finances? This is why a great way to save money on divorce is to organize your finances before you give them to your attorney.

You might gather your latest tax returns and pay stubs. Download electronic bank and credit card statements, relevant loan documents, statements for your investment accounts, and relevant deed and/or title documents. Doing this can literally save you thousands on attorney fees.

Choose the Right Lawyers for Divorce

If the most significant divorce cost is a divorce attorney, then it stands to reason that the best way to save money is to find an affordable attorney. At the same time, you don’t just want the cheapest lawyer out there.

Affordability often translates to a lack of experience or a poor success rate. Instead, choose an experienced divorce lawyer that offers free consultations and flat fees.

Call the Best Divorce Attorney in Buffalo, Minnesota

Getting a divorce in Minnesota is expensive. So, we hope this guide has helped you discover some ways to cut costs on your divorce, whether you’re getting a contested or uncontested divorce.

Are you searching for an affordable and experienced divorce attorney in Buffalo, Minnesota? Schedule a free consultation with Carlson & Jones today and speak to our attorneys about how to reduce costs in your Minnesota divorce.

How to Get Custody of a Child in Buffalo, Minnesota

It’s a common misconception that Minnesota mothers get custody of a child more often than fathers. And it’s no wonder since some US states do award child custody time disproportionately to mothers.

In Minnesota, however, judges almost always prefer to grant equal custody time to fathers and mothers. That means fathers get an average of 183 days of the year, and mothers get the remaining days.

Are you seeking child custody in Buffalo, Minnesota? If so, a local child custody lawyer can help you start the process. But before you schedule your initial consultation, here are some things you need to know about child custody in the North Star State.

Reasons You Might Want to File for Custody in Buffalo

Many people assume that the only reason to file for child custody is during a divorce. But there are actually a handful of situations where filing for custody (or changing your custody agreement) is necessary, including when:

  • You and your spouse are filing for annulment, legal separation, or divorce and want a custody agreement
  • You and your partner never got married, have a child together, and want a custody agreement
  • A court orders a paternity test
  • Domestic abuse has occurred

Legal guardians may also file for custody if they are the sole caregiver to the child. Other times a custody agreement may be useful include cases of juvenile delinquency or if a child needs protective services (called CHIPS cases in Minnesota).

Reasons You Might Want to Change a Custody Agreement in Minnesota

It’s not uncommon for parents to seek a change in the original custody agreement. For example, the following situations might spur the need for a custody agreement alteration:

  • One parent isn’t following the court-ordered custody agreement
  • Domestic abuse
  • One parent wants to move out of state with the child

A family law attorney specializing in child custody can help you create or change your custody agreement. But first, you need to understand what type of custody you want to file for exactly.

What Kind of Custody Do You Want in Minnesota?

There are two types of custody and two ways courts can award each type. The two types of custody are physical and legal custody. The two ways courts can award physical and legal custody are with a joint or sole custody agreement.

Physical vs. Legal Custody

In Minnesota, legal custody gives the parent or parents the right to make decisions about legal matters. These matters include where the child will go to school, what church (if any) the child will attend, and any decisions regarding the child’s health care.

Physical custody, on the other hand, grants parent(s) the right to make decisions about the child’s daily activities. More importantly, the physical custody agreement determines where the child lives and for how long.

Joint vs. Sole Custody

Custody agreements can either grant one parent custody of the child or both parents custody of the child. The former situation is known as a full custody agreement, while the latter is called joint custody.

During a custody hearing, the court must decide on full vs. joint custody for both legal and physical matters. In other words, both legal and physical custody can be either joint or full. An agreement could grant one parent full physical custody but mandate joint legal custody and vice versa.

Full or sole physical custody gives one parent the right to decide where the child lives and what he or she does on a day-to-day basis. Full or sole legal custody allows one parent to make decisions about schools, religion, and health care.

The parent with full or sole custody is the “primary custodial parent.” The non-custodial parent may still have court-ordered visitation rights, though.

Joint custody allows both parents to split legal and physical responsibility for the child. Minnesota judges tend to agree that joint custody is preferable in almost all cases because they believe joint agreements are in children’s best interest.

However, joint doesn’t always mean equal. There are some cases where the child splits time 50/50 with each parent. But it’s more common that one parent may take care of the child during weekdays, while the other parent cares for the child on weekends or holidays.

Minimum Requirements for Filing for Custody in Minnesota

In Minnesota, a judge doesn’t have to decide the child custody agreement in court. If two parents can agree on the terms of the agreement, they can hire a family lawyer to file a Stipulation and Order of custody.

Even if you and your co-parent never got married, you can qualify for a Joint Petition for Establishing Custody as long as you previously filed a Recognition of Parentage form. With a lawyer’s assistance, you and your co-parent can then draft the terms of the agreement. However, if two parents fail to compromise, the decision will be left up to a judge.

To file a child custody case, the child must live in Minnesota with a parent or legal guardian for six consecutive months. The only exception is emergency custody situations in which the parent seeking custody must prove the child is in immediate danger of injury or loss.

Additional Requirements for Getting Custody in Minnesota

As we mentioned above, the child’s or children’s best interest is the most important factor in court-ordered child custody agreements. But how exactly does the court determine what’s in the child’s best interest? Here are some of the factors judges use:

  • How willing the parents are to compromise on matters regarding the child’s life
  • The child’s physical, emotional, cultural, and medical needs
  • The child’s preferences, especially if the child is over eight years old
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to provide ongoing care for the child, especially as evidenced by each parent’s history of caring for the child
  •  Any significant relationships between the child and siblings, grandparents, etc.
  • Whether domestic abuse has occurred
  • How the child would be impacted by potential changes in where he or she lives and/or goes to school

Most of all, judges consider how detrimental it would be to the child to share equal time with each parent. They also consider the opposite — would it hurt the child if he or she had limited time with one parent?

Deployment, false child abuse reports, some disabilities, drug abuse, and a criminal record can also impact a parent’s ability to parent. So, judges will take these matters into account when determining the final custody agreement.

How to Start the Custody Process in Minnesota

The process of getting child custody in Minnesota depends on whether you and the child’s other parent are willing to work together. Also, if you and the child’s parent never married, you will also have to go through a slightly different process.

How to Get Custody for Unmarried Parents Who Can Compromise

If you and your co-parent never got married and don’t have an existing custody agreement, you can seek a custody agreement without going to court. Simply download, sign, and file this Joint Petition.

However, you and your co-parent must have previously filed a Recognition of Parentage form with Minnesota’s Department of Health to file the petition.

How to Get Custody for Unmarried Parents Who Can’t Compromise

If you and your child’s other parent never got married, don’t have a custody agreement, and can’t compromise, you’ll need to go to court. The judge will decide on the terms of the custody agreement for you.

To get started with this process, parents who never got married but filed a Recognition of Parentage form can submit a Request to Establish Custody and Parenting Time. If you and your co-parent never signed an ROP, the court must establish paternity before making the custody agreement.

How to Get Custody for Married Parents Who Can Compromise

Parents who are or who were previously married, have a child together, and can compromise on the agreement’s terms can file for custody outside of court. You and your co-parent will have to file a Stipulation and Order.

The state of Minnesota doesn’t freely provide the Stipulation and Order form. The best way to obtain one is to speak with a local child custody attorney.

How to Get Custody for Married Parents Who Can’t Compromise

Minnesota doesn’t freely provide child custody filing forms for married parents who need a judge to determine the agreement. This is because child custody usually gets decided during divorce or legal separation. A divorce attorney who also specializes in child custody can help you begin this process.

Once you have a custody agreement in place, you can request a change in your agreement. We recommend speaking to a child custody attorney to help you secure the best possible outcome.

Call a Child Custody Lawyer in Buffalo, MN

Before you file for custody in Minnesota, you need to know whether you want full or joint legal and physical custody. You must reside in Minnesota with your child for 180 days before you can begin the process. The exact process you go through will depend on whether you and the child’s other parent were ever married.

Do you need an experienced child custody lawyer to help you navigate Buffalo, Minnesota’s complex laws? We’re here for you. Call Carlson & Jones today to schedule a free consultation with our child custody lawyers.


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Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (612) 800-8057
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (218) 736-9429
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (320) 289-4761
Fax: 763-682-3330

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Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Toll Free: (877) 344-1555
Phone: (952) 260-9640
Fax: 763-682-3330

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