Role of a Custodial Parent in Family Law in Minnetonka

The aim of family law in Minnetonka is to help lawmakers make custody determinations that bring about stability in the lives of the children involved. The custody decisions enable the children, regardless of their age, to have a place they can call home, along with a sense of security. Needless to say, all custody determinations in Minnesota are made in keeping with the “best interests” of the children, without losing sight of child support laws 2018.

Under state law, family law in Minnetonka acknowledges two types of custody: legal and physical custody. Here’s a brief explanation of both.

1. Legal custody: This refers to the decision-making process involving crucial life choices for minor children. The parent with legal custody makes important decisions related to the child’s religion, medical care, and education, and schooling, among others.

2. Physical custody: This impacts the primary residence of minor children. The parent with physical custody is the one with whom the minor children will reside.

Broadly speaking, the custodial parent is the primary parent who the children live with. This usually means that the court has granted primary legal or physical custody to one of the parents, or the parents have made a mutual agreement, or only one parent is present in the children’s lives. Being the custodial parent, therefore, comes with several responsibilities.

The following tips are meant to help custodial parents in Minnesota better understand their role in raising their children.

1. Create and Follow a Visitation Schedule

The custodial parent should create a parenting plan and schedule with the non-custodial parent. Doing so will help you come up with a concrete visitation schedule. In the absence of such a parenting plan, the Minnesota court will enforce a visitation schedule for both parents to follow. If the visitation schedule needs any changes, the custodial parent should give the non-custodial parent advance notice about it.

2. Protect the Best Interests of Your Children

Family law in Minnetonka emphasizes the “best interests of the child” as the legal standard when pronouncing any child custody-related verdicts. The best interests of the child, essentially, means that the parents will always place the needs of their children before their own. This is done to ensure that the children’s physical and mental well-being are taken into account before any decision is made.

3. Consult the Non-Custodial Parent Whenever Necessary

A parent who shares joint custody of the children should make it a point to involve their ex whenever a meaningful issue related to their children’s upbringing springs up. It is important to remember that children need both their parents as they’re growing up. Have an honest discussion about how you and your ex will manage your children’s upbringing and the various challenges that come with it. This will help you put a plan of action in place, which can be implemented as and when required.

4. Record Child Support Payments

Your lawyer may have already acquainted you with the child support laws of 2018. Accordingly, if you receive child support payments, it is important that you chronicle them as they come in. This will help you gather proof of payment, in case you need to request back child support payments in court.

5. Inform the Non-Custodial Parent If Moving out of Minnesota with Children

If you desire to relocate with your children, you should discuss the matter with the non-custodial parent before acting on it. This is because family law in Minnetonka gives the non-custodial parent the right to know about the whereabouts of their children. Further, the non-custodial may approach the court for changing the child custody verdict as a result of your uninformed relocation.

Remember, the court will take into account multiple factors before allowing you to relocate. This is different from taking a vacation with your children though, in which case, the court may still ask you to inform the non-custodial parent about the vacation beforehand.


6. Consult the Non-Custodial Parent before Incurring Huge Childcare Expenses

If your ex is liable for covering half of the childcare expenses or extraordinary medical expenses of your children, you should consult with them before making any major related expenses. These reasons with the intention of upholding the best interest of the child. It is important to ensure that your ex is, in fact, capable of covering major costs. This, however, does not mean that you cannot make expensive purchases. The resolution can be as simple as waiting until payday and then making the purchase.


As you can see, being the custodial parent is no walk in the park. While you do get to share your home and life with your children, you also have certain responsibilities towards family law in Minnetonka as well as the non-custodial parent. The above tips will help you better understand your role in your children’s lives and make sound decisions in their best interests.

Reach out to Our Seasoned Family Lawyer in Minnetonka Today

Custody decisions can be life-changing for parents as well as children. Make sure your children are always under the best care and that their interests are well-protected. Our skilled legal team at Carlson & Jones, P.A. will help you understand family law in Minnetonka as well as its implications on your life. Call us right away at (855) 976-2444 to schedule a free consultation. You can also reach us via our website.

How to Win Full Child Custody as Per Family Law in Buffalo, MN

When children are involved, the trickiest and most challenging factor in a divorce is child custody. As both parents are equally entitled to get custody of their children, the battle to win full or sole custody often drags on for years.

If your spouse is unwilling to compromise or wants to harass you, they will block your every attempt to win full custody of your kids. As professional divorce attorneys in Buffalo, we have come across more than a few such cases. However, the court will always take the children’s best interest into consideration when making child custody decisions.

A. Becoming the Custodial Parent

In Minnesota, the court awards two types of child custody: physical and legal custody.

Physical custody determines where the children will live after the divorce, and the parent awarded this custody raises the children. Like most states, physical custody is often awarded to one parent in Minnesota as well. The other parent gets visitation rights.

Legal custody involves the right to make important decisions about the children, such as religious upbringing, medical and healthcare, and education. Usually, the court will award legal custody to both parents.

Most parents want to win primary physical custody and become a custodial parent. As the court has the final say in this matter, you need to hire a lawyer who knows the divorce law in Buffalo inside-out. Only an experienced, professional, and skilled lawyer can help you become a custodial parent.

B. Tips to Win Full Custody

As mentioned, the court considers the best interest of the children when making the custody decision. There are a few ways to prove to the court that you are worthy of raising your child. If you can prove this, the court may award you full custody.

1. UnderstandFamily Law

The first step is to understand the family law in your jurisdiction. While you can find a lot of information online, it is better to consult an attorney practicing family law in Buffalo. They can help you understand the factors that courts usually consider when determining child custody.

Furthermore, each child custody case is unique. So, consulting a divorce attorney in Buffalo will help you know exactly where you stand. For example, in most cases, the court will award joint legal custody while awarding physical custody to only one parent. In some cases, however, one parent can get both legal and physical custody. Talk to your lawyer to know the most likely outcome in your case and how to proceed.

2. Try to Be a Better Parent

When seeking sole custody, you should focus on being a better parent. In other words, you will need to ensure your children’s physical as well as mental well-being. Make sure you are aware of their routine. Keep track of all their school activities, medical appointments, sleeping and eating habits, and social interactions.

You will also need to look after the mental well-being of your kids. You need to help your children adjust to their new lifestyle. Divorce can be hard on many children. So, you will need to be extra careful during this time. As a better parent, the court will expect you to provide your kids with an overall healthy lifestyle. Be sure to provide them with it.

3. Be Practical and Honest

Although family law in Buffalo allows you to get full custody, you need to be practical. You need to consider your work schedule, location, and income, among other things, before you decide to fight for sole custody.

For example, if you are working two jobs, you are less likely to spend time with your kids. Would you rather your kids spent time with your ex or a nanny? It is usually in the best interest of children to be with their parents.

If your current work location is in a different city, state, or country, you will need to consider if your children can adapt to this change. As your kids are going through considerable emotional stress already, the last thing you would want is to take them away from their friends.

That’s why you should always be practical and honest when making custody-related requests in court. Being unreasonable will only turn the odds against you. You can talk to your lawyer and even your ex to work out a solution suitable for everyone.

4. Document Your Actions

As per the family law in Buffalo, the burden of proof lies on the parents. You may already be a better parent than your ex or soon-to-be-ex. However, you will need to prove it in court. You will need to gather evidence to prove your active involvement in your children’s lives.

So, you need to maintain your own records of everything, including parenting schedule, school activities, and visitation schedule, among other things. You can talk to your lawyer to know what needs to be documented and for how long.


In most cases, more than anything, divorcing parents want full custody of their kids. However, custody battles are often challenging. Hopefully, these tips will help you prepare for yours. Remember though, as each child custody case is unique, be sure to talk to a competent attorney before making any decisions. Good luck!

Need a Consultation on Family Law in Buffalo? Call Us Now!

As a leading divorce attorney in Buffalo, Carlson & Jones, P.A. can provide you with all services related to divorce and child custody. No matter how complicated your case is, our experts will help you find a suitable solution. Call us on (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to know more about our legal services.

The Dos and Don’ts of Winning Your Child Custody Battle in Brainerd, MN

If you are getting a divorce and have children, the most challenging part of your legal separation will be the child custody battle. In their heart, both parents are committed to winning the primary physical child custody. However, most custody battles are difficult to win, owing to the complications involved in such cases.

Custody battles are also time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining. You need to have a proper plan of action to increase your chance of winning custody. If you are consulting an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, they will probably discuss a strategy with you before filing for custody.

If you haven’t already hired an attorney, the following dos and don’ts can prove helpful.

1. Try to Work Out a Solution with Your Ex

One of the best ways to resolve a custody dispute quickly and cost-effectively is to collaborate with your spouse. As parents, you both have the right to love and take care of your children. Even if you have fallen apart with your ex, they are still a part of your children’s lives.

Showing a willingness to resolve the custody dispute amicably can benefit your children in the long run. Before resorting to any legal means, make sure to sit down with your ex and discuss the issue.

Be practical when deciding who gets primary physical child custody. As a parent, you should always keep your children’s best interests in mind when making these decisions.

2. Don’t Despise Your Ex

Another essential measure is to keep your emotions out of the picture until your child custody dispute settles. Trash-talking your ex in front of the judge and the jury, or even your experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd is not a good idea. Talking negatively about your ex is usually frowned upon by almost everyone involved in this legal process.

You should also not speak negatively about your ex to your children. Many divorcing couples use their children as pawns to assassinate the character of their spouse. However, this strategy is almost always likely to backfire in court. Plus, you will be putting your children through additional emotional stress in what already seems like an unbearable situation for them.

3. Document All Your Communication

If possible, try to communicate with your ex. You need to proactively inform your ex about your children’s schedule, school activities, medical appointments, and other social activities.  However, make sure to document all your communication. Keep a record of everything from text messages and emails to voicemails and video chats. You can talk to your attorney about any additional precautions you need to take when communicating with your ex.

Your communication is a critical piece of evidence that can help prove your willingness to cooperate. So, make sure to share your children’s report cards, activity schedules, and other important stuff with your ex. Documenting communication can also help prove your ex’s unwillingness to collaborate, strengthening your chance of winning the custody battle.

4. Don’t Behave Recklessly

As soon as you start your custody battle, your experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd will tell you to be on your best behavior. Make sure to take their advice seriously. You need to avoid any friction with the law while your child custody case is going on.

You must never drink too much alcohol or consume any drugs even when your kids are not around. Remember, a simple DUI can also impact the outcome of your child custody case. The court may see you as an irresponsible or reckless individual, deeming you unfit as a parent. Apart from ruining your chances of winning custody, these poor life choices will also hurt your children.

5. Make Sure to Follow Court’s Requests

As mentioned, child custody battles are time-consuming. Until there is a verdict, the court will pass several temporary orders for both parties. These orders are meant to ensure the well-being of children until the process is complete.

Whether you need to attend a counseling session or share your children’s schedule with your ex, you need to follow every request the court makes of you. By doing so, you can show the court your commitment to cooperate and resolve the dispute amicably.

6. Don’t Hide Anything from Your Lawyer

Lastly, try not to hide anything from your attorney. If you withhold information or lie, not even an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd can help you win. Make sure to provide your lawyer with all the facts related to your custody dispute.

Don’t exaggerate any facts about your ex. Your ex’s lawyer will unearth your secrets at some point during the custody dispute, making it difficult for your lawyer to win the case. Whether you are seeing a psychiatrist or were arrested for a DUI recently, make sure to share this information with your attorney immediately.


While hiring the best attorney can help increase your chances of winning child custody, you also need to take a few additional precautions. Although there are no guarantees, hopefully, these dos and don’ts can help strengthen your case. However, no two child custody disputes are the same. So, make sure to consult your lawyer before making any decisions.

Talk to an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in BrainerdNow

Most child custody disputes are challenging, requiring you to hire competent, experienced, and professional lawyers like Carlson and Jones, P.A., in Brainerd. Our team will go the extra mile to help you win your children’s custody. Call us on (855) 976-2444 to know more. You can also contact us through our website.

How Your Criminal History Can Impact Your Child Custody Case in Brainerd, MN

It is relatively easier for married couples who don’t have children to get a divorce. But for divorcing parents, the topmost concern is getting child custody.

Child custody disputes are often challenging, especially when both parents provide the court with compelling arguments. Both parents are interested in winning either physical or legal custody of their kids as soon as possible.

Like in any other state, the courts in Minnesota also consider the best interest of the children when settling custody disputes. That’s why, the criminal history of both parents plays a critical role in determining child custody. If you have a criminal record, no matter how insignificant, you should consult an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN before taking any decision.

Let’s see how the process works and whether you can win a child custody battle despite having a criminal record.

1. How Is Child Custody Determined in Brainerd, MN

In Minnesota, you need to meet the residency requirements to file for child custody. The law states that the child must have lived with the parent or the person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months. There are exceptions to this rule. However, it is better to consult an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN to understand whether these exceptions apply in your case.

Like most other states, Minnesota also offers two primary forms of child custody: physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody determines which parent the children can stay with. Usually, one of the parents gets physical custody. In some cases, however, both parents can share joint physical custody of their children.

On the other hand, legal custody determines which parent will have the right to make decisions about the upbringing of the children. It usually gives you the right to make decisions regarding religion, medical treatment, and education, among other things.

2. Factors Considered to Determine the Child Custody

Keeping the best interests of the children in mind is top priority when making child custody decisions in Minnesota. As per the Minnesota law, the courts consider 12 different factors when determining child custody.

First on the list is the physical safety and mental well-being of the children, followed by their educational and medical needs. The court will also consider children’s preferences if they are old enough. Furthermore, the court will take into account parenting time, social development of the children, physical and mental fitness of parents, financial situation, and willingness of both parents to cooperate.

However, each child custody case is different. That’s why you are better off consulting an experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN before making any decision. It is also possible to resolve custody issues amicably or through mediation, which is less stressful and more affordable.

3. Can You Win a Child Custody Battle Despite a Criminal Record?

When determining child custody in Minnesota, the court will look at your and your spouse’s criminal history. They will also check the criminal record of your new partner if you are in a relationship. However, the family court will look at your criminal history from the perspective of how it could affect your ability to raise the children.

In other words, if your criminal record consists of felony offenses and convictions, you are less likely to win a child custody battle. For example, if you have a history of violence, it will most certainly affect your ability to get custody even if the crime was committed before the child was born.

If you have been convicted of crimes like domestic violence, sexual abuse, and child abuse, the court is more likely to sack your rights as a parent. The court will take this decision based on the logical assumption that it is not in the best interest of the children to stay with a violent and/or abusive parent.

However, if you have an isolated incident, such as underage drinking or a DUI, you are still likely to win a child custody battle as the family court will be considerate. Also, if you are being charged with a crime and not yet convicted, your experienced child custody lawyer in Brainerd, MN can pursue the court to put less weight on charges compared to a conviction.

But, if you are convicted of the said crime, it could result in the revocation of your parental rights in future. That’s why you should make sure your criminal defense lawyer and child custody attorney are on the same page. You should never hide any criminal history from your lawyer.


As you can see, your criminal history may have a significant impact on your child custody battle. However, there are no generalizations when considering prior criminal behavior of a parent filing for child custody as each case has its own merits and demerits. Overall, it is necessary to hire a competent child custody attorney as soon as possible to increase your chances of winning your children’s custody.

Talk to an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Brainerd, MN Today!

As a parent, you have the right to be involved in your children’s lives even after the divorce. If you are filing for or contesting child custody in Brainerd, MN, Carlson & Jones, P.A. can help you. Our experienced lawyers will fight for and protect your parental rights. Call us on (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.

How is Child Custody determined in Minnetonka, MN

Getting a divorce is never easy, even more so when children are involved. Determining child custody is one of the most stressful processes divorcing parents have to endure. Whether child custody is determined by parents (through an out-of-court agreement) or by a judge, it is a difficult choice that can have a long-term effect on parents and children.

As a parent, you should consider hiring an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN, if you want to increase the odds of winning the custody of your kids. However, you must also understand how child custody is determined as it can help you prepare for your case thoroughly.

1. Types of Child Custody in Minnesota

To file for child custody in Minnesota, you need to meet the residency requirements. The child must have lived in Minnesota with a parent or a person acting as a parent for at least six consecutive months (180 days) before starting the court process. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, which you can better understand by consulting an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN.

In Minnesota, there are two primary types of child custody.

A. Physical Custody

Physical custody provides a parent with the rights for daily care and control of children. So, children will have to stay with the parent having physical custody. Physical custody can also be either joint or sole custody. 

In joint physical custody, the children spend time with both parents, including stay, roughly equally. However, this type of custody is fast becoming a rare norm in most family courts.

Usually, considering the best interest of the children (education, social life, and daily needs), only one parent is given primary physical custody, while the other has visitation rights.

Visitation rights allow a parent to spend exclusive, but limited time with their children. The parent with physical custody is called the custodial parent, and the one with visitation rights is called the non-custodial parent.

B. Legal Custody

Legal custody provides a parent with the right to make long-term or significant decisions in their children’s lives. Usually, these key aspects include decisions regarding education, religion, medical treatment, and dental care, among other things specified in the court order.

You can get either joint or sole legal custody of your child. Joint legal custody means both parents will have an equal say in making important decisions about their children. Sole legal custody, however, gives these rights to only one parent, leaving the other with no legal right in this decision-making.

2. Am I Allowed to See My Children If My Ex Has Sole Custody?

In some rare situations, the court may offer sole physical and legal custody to one parent. It usually happens if one of the parents is deemed unfit or incapable of taking care of the children.

If there is a history of substance abuse, child abuse, domestic abuse, or a criminal record, the court may prevent the non-custodial parent from seeing their children at all. However, it may also allow only supervised visits with highly limited visitation time and rights.

But in most cases, the non-custodial parent will have substantial visitation rights. Most courts emphasize the best interest of the children when making custody decisions. So, although one parent gets full physical custody, the other will still have significant involvement in the children’s upbringing. To understand your best legal options, however, you need to discuss your case in detail with an experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN

3. Do Children Have a Say in Child Custody?

In many states, including Minnesota, the courts are increasingly taking children’s preferences into account when deciding child custody. Although there is no specific age limit for children in Minnesota to express their custodial preferences, the court will take them into account only if the judge believes the child is mature enough.

judge believes the child is mature enough. 

The preference also needs to be backed by logical reasoning. A child asking to stay with a parent just because they like it, is often not enough to make the consideration. The court will also take what older children have to say into account instead of what younger ones think, especially wishes of children below seven years are less likely to be entertained in this matter.

4. Are Custodial Arrangements Open to Modification?

Technically yes. The law allows modification of various child custody arrangements such as parenting time, alimony, and visitation rights.

However, it is a challenging process as you have to prove that the circumstances have changed enough to warrant a custodial modification and it is in the best interest of the children. Also, you can’t file for a custody modification  for at least a year from the date of filing the original divorce or legal separation order.

If you have made a modification request before, you need to wait for two years from the date of the last modification request before filing a new one. The one-year limit is not applicable, however, if both parents agree to the custodial changes. An experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN can help you better understand the process and regulations about custodial changes applicable to your case.


Child custody is an inevitable part of a divorce process when children are involved. The parents seeking a divorce must, therefore, understand how courts determine child custody in Minnesota. As you can see, there are several factors involved in determining the outcome of your child custody battle. Hopefully, this post will help you understand the basics of the child custody process and your legal rights as a parent

Talk to an Experienced Child Custody Lawyer in Minnetonka, MN Today!

If you are a parent seeking a divorce, you will need to think about child custody from the very beginning. As a leading and experienced child custody lawyer in Minnetonka, MN, Carlson and Jones, P.A. can provide you with the right legal advice. Our experts will always help you do what’s best for your children. Call us at (855) 663-7423 or you can also contact us through our website to know more.

What Does Primary Physical Custody Mean In Minnetonka, MN

The outcome of a child custody case can have a huge impact on the daily life of both parents. If you have children and are planning to get a divorce in Minnetonka or are already going through one, you need to understand how child custody works in Minnesota.

Of course, you can always consult an experienced custody lawyer in Minnetonka about the legal options available to you in your unique circumstances. However, it is a good idea to acquaint yourself with the basics of securing a custody plan that agrees with you and your children.

Child Custody in Minnetonka, Minnesota

Two types of child custody arrangements exist in Minnesota state:

  • Physical custody
  •  Legal custody

Physical custody refers “the routine daily care and control and the residence of the child.” It means having the legal right to make decisions regarding the child’s daily life. The parent who has physical custody typically lives with the child, or decides where the child will live. This parent performs all the regular duties associated with determining how the child spends his/her day.

The term primary physical custody is often used in child custody orders for the parent with whom a child spends the majority of their time. In such cases, both parents have a right to the children, but one parent has more time with his/her child than the other. The child generally lives with the primary custodian, while the non-custodial parent is given visitation rights.

Legal custody is the right and the obligation of a parent to make broader and less tangible decisions pertaining to the child’s upbringing. This includes decisions about the child’s education, religious beliefs, medical care, and more.

In this post, we’ll be focusing on primary physical custody.

How Do Minnesota Courts Work out Child Custody Matters?

Child custody issues arise most commonly in situations when a divorcing couple has children. However, this issue can also arise in other circumstances, like when a child is being looked after by a non-parent or when a child gets involved in the juvenile court system.

Parents who agree on a custody arrangement proceed to file a document called a “stipulation.” The court usually grants them their requests. But when custody is contested, the case goes to either the Family Court when it is related to divorce, or the Juvenile Court when it is related to child protection.

Like all laws, child custody laws also vary by state in Minnesota. The child should have been living in the state of Minnesota with the primary caregiver for at least six months before the case can be filed, unless an exception is made. The court decides the custody arrangements in keeping with the best interests of the child.

Several considerations, such as each parent’s availability, relationship with the child, and so on come into play here.

If parents are not able to resolve their custody-related disagreements informally, they will have to approach the court. In Minnesota courts, parents can seek custody in two ways:

  • If the couple is married, they can file a summons and petition to initiate divorce proceedings and seek physical custody, or
  • If the couple is divorced or separated or never married, but the paternity of the child has been established, a petition or motion can be filed for custody in the county where the child lives or where the court has already issued a custody order previously.

In both cases, one parent will need to submit a written petition or motion to the other parent so that both have the opportunity to explain their respective side of the story to the judge if a hearing is scheduled.

Child custody issues are tied with state laws. Hence, cases where parents and children live in different states are complex to deal with. Fortunately, Minnesota statute encourages cooperation between courts within and outside the state. There are set provisions that enable the sharing of evidence between states. For a clearer understanding of how this works, you should consult a qualified Minnesota child custody attorney.

Important Considerations at Play

As mentioned, Minnesota courts decide on child custody based on the best interests of the child. The courts take into consideration the evidence presented as well as each of the following 13 factors in their decision:

The requests of the parents

  • The preference of the child, if the court considers the child to be of sufficient age to express their desire
  • The primary caretaker of the child
  • The child’s closeness with each parent
  • The quality of interaction and relationship of the child with parents, siblings, and any other person who may impact the best interests of the child
  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The duration of time the child has lived in a stable family environment, and the interest in its continuity
  • The permanence of the existing or proposed custodial home
  • The physical and mental health of everyone involved
  • The child’s cultural background
  • The history of domestic abuse in the family, if any
  • Each parent’s ability to give provide the child with affection, guidance, education, and teach the child about the family culture, religion, and creed, if any
  • Each parent’s ability and willingness to encourage and allow interaction between the child and the other parent (unless domestic violence is involved)


The process of obtaining physical custody of a child can be complex and demanding. Fortunately, you need not go through it alone; legal help is always available. An experienced custody lawyer in Minnetonka can be your best ally and guide you through the legal maze, handle the necessary paperwork in court, and build your case from the ground up. After all, when your children are involved, you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

Get Legal Guidance from an Aggressive Child Custody Lawyer in Minnetonka, Minnesota

Don’t get lost in the labyrinth of legal paperwork, processes, and jargon when dealing with a child custody matter. Leave it to the experts. The team of experienced custody lawyers in Minnetonka at Carlson and Jones, P.A. will work diligently to bring you positive outcomes. Call us on (855) 976-2444 for a free consultation of your case. You can also contact us with your queries through our website.


How to Win a Custody Battle in Buffalo, MN

It is common knowledge that the number of divorces has been climbing steadily over time. According to the latest data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 782,038 divorces (45 reporting States and D.C.) in the US, with a divorce rate of 2.9 per 1,000 people in 2018.

However, getting a divorce is an emotionally and financially stressful process, especially when children are involved. In an unamicable divorce, the battle for child custody can often turn into an ugly fight.

In the end, the court will consider what is in the best interest of you children and a few other factors, depending on your case, when awarding custody. So, as one of the most experienced custody lawyers in Buffalo, MN, we often advise our clients to be prepared, irrespective of whether you are a father or a mother.

Here are five tips that can help present your case in the best light and even help you win the custody of your child.

1. Try to Negotiate the Custody

In most divorce cases, you may get a chance to resolve the issue of child custody amicably. Although this isn’t necessarily a part of the legal proceedings, usually experienced custody lawyers in Buffalo, MN, will recommend to you to create a parenting plan through mutual negotiations.

The most significant advantage of this approach is that you can avoid a costly and lengthy custody battle. You will be able to save considerable money and time. Furthermore, your children won’t have to face the mental stress of a custody battle in addition to the divorce. In fact, the cordial parenting environment can help your children overcome the mental stress of your legal separation relatively quickly.

2. Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Wild

Staying calm and collected is perhaps the most critical factor to consider when fighting for your child’s custody. Irrespective of how the opposition behaves, you must keep your emotions under check.

Usually, a judge will take your behavior into account when deciding on child custody. If your behavior strikes as erratic or aggressive, the opposition will use it against you. It may compel the court to rule in your spouse’s favor.

Your spouse will also try their best to establish that they are a good parent. However, in most cases, the judge will be able to detect if the opposition is trying to be someone they are not. That’s why you can’t lose your emotional balance at any cost. So, avoid talking to your spouse if it is likely to cause an emotional outburst.

3. Understand Your Legal Rights First

The next important step is to understand the family law in Minnesota. In a child custody battle, you must understand your legal rights as a parent. While you can do some basic research on your own, make sure to consult experienced custody lawyers in Buffalo, MN.

A skilled lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and how to exercise them. For example, after taking a look at your case, the lawyer will be able to tell you whether joint custody is your best bet, or you can ask for sole custody.

Be honest with your lawyer. Don’t invent stories to put yourself in the best light. It will backfire during the court proceedings, taking away your chance of winning joint custody, let alone sole custody.

4. Perception Always Matters

You may not like it; however, perception is often everything in a custody battle. You must try your best to present yourself as a competent, responsible, and loving parent. A seemingly harmless text message, email, or social media post can be entered into the court proceedings and used against you.

Be careful of who you talk or write to, especially when communicating with your spouse or their friends and family members, and lawyers. It is better to communicate through your attorney as far as possible.

Also, make sure to dress properly and speak politely during your court hearings and meetings. Always be on time for court hearings, visits, meetings, and picking up your kids. Being late can be perceived as irresponsible behavior, which is likely to affect your chances of winning custody.

5. Keep Your Kids’ Wellbeing at the Front-and-Center

The last thing you want to do is to use your kids as pawns or tools to win the custody battle. Any experienced custody lawyers in Buffalo, MN, will advise you against the idea of putting your children in the courtroom or on the witness stand. In fact, you should keep your children out of the courtroom and your divorce proceedings.

You should never vilify your spouse to turn your children against them. Also, never exaggerate the shortcomings of your spouse. You should never talk negatively about your ex at all. What matters in the court proceedings is evidence, not your opinion. So, keep them to yourself.

If your children ask you difficult questions, try to be positive. Any lies you tell your kids will eventually backfire, causing more harm than good to your case. Make sure to share only the facts your kids can handle. You needn’t burden them with the stress of your divorce. Talk to an expert such as a child psychiatrist, if needed.


When children are involved, child custody becomes the most critical aspect of a divorce. In most cases, the court considers what is in the best interest of children when awarding custody rights to parents. However, you do need to talk to an experienced custody lawyer to increase your chances of winning a custody battle. Hopefully, these five tips will help you make an informed decision about your custody battle.

Call the Most Experienced Custody Lawyers in Buffalo, MN.

Going through a divorce is emotionally stressful. As one of the most experienced custody lawyers in Buffalo, MN, Carlson & Jones, P.A. will help present your case in the best light. Depending on the circumstances of your case, our expert lawyers will try their best to increase your chances of winning child custody. Call us on (855) 976-2444 or contact us online to know more about our legal services.

What does Custodial Parent mean in Minnesota

When a couple with children divorces, the matter of child custody also needs to be addresses. It may also be considered in court actions for paternity, domestic abuse, or when a child is being looked after by a third party.

In Minnesota, the state laws govern the child custody process and determine how related decisions are made by the court. The state laws also help determine whether or not joint custody is an option, along with the appointment of the custodial parent.

Legally speaking, the term “custodial parent” refers to the parent who has physical custody of the child/children for the majority of the time. Even if both the parents agree to co-parent, the custodial parent is responsible for most of the aspects of raising the child.

What Is a Custodial Parent in Minnesota?

Minnesota recognizes two types of child custody:

a. Legal custody: Refers to the legal authority to make long-term decisions related to raising the child.

b. Physical custody: Refers to making decisions about the day-to-day activities of the child and where the child lives.

In general terms, the parent with who the child lives with for the majority of the time is the custodial parent. However, not all parents who have sole physical custody of their child are considered custodial parents by the courts.

For instance, if a single mother is raising her child by herself and the father chooses to remain uninvolved, she will still have to file for child custody to be legally considered the custodial parent.

More often than not, custody actions in Minnesota State require the child to live with the custodial parent for a period of at least six months. There are exceptions to this rule though. For example, if the custodial parent is found to be absent or abusive, the child be placed under the care of the other parent immediately.

As well-practiced Child Custody lawyers in Minnesota, we’ve presented below a helpful few tips for custodial parents that will help them understand their legal responsibilities better.

1. Go by the Visitation Schedule

The custodial parent should work out a mutually-agreeable parenting plan with the non-custodial parent and create a suitable visitation schedule. If there is no parenting plan in place, the court may impose a visitation schedule. If the existing visitation schedule needs to be altered in any way, the custodial parent is required to notify the non-custodial parent about it in advance.

2. Record Child Support Payments

If the custodial parent is receiving child support, they should ensure to keep a record of each payment. This proof of payment can be submitted in court if you need to start receiving child support again.

3. Involve the Non-Custodial Parent

In case of joint custody of the child, the custodial parent is required to consult the non-custodial parent on all important matters that affect the child.

Ideally, the child should be around both parents, with each equally involved. Having honest and open communication about handling challenging situations that arise when raising the child can go a long way in creating an effective parenting plan. This will enable the non-custodial parent to be as involved as possible in the child’s life.

4. Prioritize the Child

At the end of the day, everything boils down to what’s in the best interest of the child. This is the main aspect that all family courts consider. It entails doing what is needed to ensure that the child develops into a happy and healthy individual. This means that both parents should place the needs of their child above everything else. Prioritizing the wellbeing of the child ensures that he/she lives in a stable and safe environment.

5. Keep the Non-Custodial Parent Updated about Your Travel Plans

If the custodial parent decides to relocate with the child, they need to discuss it with the non-custodial parent and seek their permission to do so. Further, the non-custodial parent has the right to initiate a change in the child’s custody due to the relocation.

Even if the custodial parent wants to take a vacation with the child, it is mandatory for them to inform the non-custodial parent about their travel plans in advance.

6. Consult the Non-Custodial Parent about Major Expenses

If the non-custodial parent is spending money to cover a part the child care or the child’s medical expenses, the custodial parent should speak to them before making an exorbitant expenditure. It is always preferable that both parents are financially sound. But, if you find that your ex-spouse cannot cover major costs, it doesn’t mean you don’t make the purchase. You can simply delay it for some time.

Becoming the Custodial Parent in Minnesota

To be legally considered the custodial parent of your child, you will need to file for custody in the family court. You can file for custody yourself, a process known as filing pro se.

Alternatively, you may want to get in touch with an astute Minnesota child custody attorney to get the custody process started and develop a strategy that helps achieve your goal.


Being a custodial parent requires a high level of responsibility and maturity. All said and done, it is crucial to always bear the best interest of your child in mind when making decision that pertains to their life. Any court decision will be based on this. Hopefully, the above information will help you understand what it means to be a custodial parent in Minnesota.

Reach out to Child Custody Lawyers in Minnesota to Discuss Your Concerns

Understanding the Minnesota state laws that play a role in determining child custody can leave you confused. At Carlson & Jones, our Minnesota child custody lawyers know how to find a legal middle ground between what you consider best for your child and the applicable state laws. For a free consultation, call us at (855) 976-2444. You can also contact us through our website.

When Can Minnesota Family Lawyers Modify Child Support Obligations?

For many families, child support payments are a significant chunk of their monthly income. But only about a third of obligees (people receiving support) receive the full amount every month. Many obligors (people paying support) pay what they feel is fair as opposed to what is ordered. In these situations, the child support amount should probably be modified, so obligor, obligees, and children have similar expectations.

Child support obligations are somewhat easier to modify in Minnesota than they are in some other jurisdictions. The Gopher State is an income share state. Since the child support obligation accounts for a number of economic and noneconomic factors, judges can usually modify support amounts.

Intentionally underpaying support is a bad idea. It’s only a matter of time before the state takes action. So, whether you need to increase or decrease the child support obligation, it’s best to partner with a Minnesota family lawyer.

Income Decreases

Monthly income is one of the leading factors in child support determinations. So, if the obligor’s income has decreased, a child support modification is usually in order. It’s normally best to act quickly in these cases since child support decreases are normally not retroactive.

Proof of income is normally enough evidence, particularly for obligors who only have W-2 income. Self-employed obligors might need to submit additional proof, such as several years of tax returns or several months of bank statements, to show the income decrease was authentic and consistent.

Minnesota family lawyers usually cannot decrease the amount if there is evidence that the obligor intentionally left a higher-paying job to reduce his or her child support obligation. Evidence of intentional underemployment includes things such as social media posts or likes about the high cost of child support or the supposed unfairness of these payments. Such chatter is especially common on some dubious fathers’ rights websites.

Minnesota Family Lawyers and Income Increases

Income increases are a bit more difficult to prove unless a Minnesota family lawyer conducts extensive discovery. This process is often expensive and time-consuming. So, it’s better to look for circumstantial evidence of income increase, like lifestyle upgrades or a sudden improved ability to pay monthly bills. If the obligor contests the increase despite this evidence, many judges order obligors to pay the other side’s attorneys’ fees.

Establishing changed income is not enough. That change must also be substantial and permanent. As a rule of thumb, any change greater than about 10 percent is substantial. Judges mike modify child support obligations for lesser amounts, but such changes are not easy. Additionally, the increased income must be permanent. Self-employment income spikes and occasional bonuses are almost always insufficient.

Income change modifications are typically agreed motions. Generally, a Minnesota family lawyer simply submits these orders. Most judges sign them without hearings.

Frequently, both parents are not 100 percent convinced that a modification is needed. Pre-filing mediation is often useful in these situations. A third-party mediator, who is usually an unaffiliated Minnesota family lawyer, works with both sides to facilitate a settlement.

Assuming both parties negotiate in good faith, mediation is about 90 percent successful. This form of alternative dispute resolution saves everyone time and money.

Emotional Changes

The timesharing arrangement is also a factor in Minnesota child support orders. So, the timesharing division is also a potential factor in child support modification actions. However, emotional-based modifications are not easy to prove.

The same basic principles apply. The emotional changes must be substantial. Usually, only a significant change in the number of overnight visits convinces judges to make such modifications. Alternatively, conversions from partial visitation to full visitation might suffice as well. For example, Father might have had limited contact with his son until he overcame an alcohol addiction.

Parental Alienation Syndrome, which comes in many forms, often clouds these issues. Alienating parents try to drive an emotional wedge between the targeted parent and the child. If the judge sees any evidence of PAS, such as a sudden change of parental preference, they will usually not modify custody or support unless a social worker makes a favorable recommendation.

Talk to a Compassionate Attorney

Various factors could support a successful child support modification motion. For a free consultation with an experienced Minnesota family lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Home and after-hours visits are available.

When can a Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorney Adjust a Child Support Obligation?

Typically, child support obligations should be adjusted, either up or down, at least once every three years. That’s the only way to keep up with things like employment changes, lifestyle changes, and emotional changes. Child support adjustments usually require parenting plan modifications as well, because these changes frequently overlap. For example, a new job usually means a different commute time or even a relocation.

In both these situations, it’s very important that the judge approve the changes. Informal side agreements regarding parenting time changes, even if these pacts are in writing, are unenforceable in Wright County family court. Additionally, as far as the state is concerned, the child support obligation listed in the decree, and not the one the parties agreed on, is the only one that matters.

So, even if the child support change is agreed, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney should be part of the process. Typically, judges approve agreed changes without holding hearings. Moreover, if the parties do not agree 100 percent on everything, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney can usually bring them together. That way, they can present an agreed order to the judge and streamline the modification process.

Income Changes

Most people change jobs at least twelve times during their careers. Most of these changes involve compensation changes as well. Additionally, even if people stay put, annual salary adjustments are commonplace.

As for proof, sometimes a recent paystub is sufficient, for obligors requesting increases or decreases. But that’s not true in most cases. A significant number of people freelance on the side, or they might be completely self-employed. Additionally, some compensation, such as a company car or provided housing, does not appear on paystubs.

Obligees seeking to increase the child support obligation often face different issues. So, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney requests financial documents during discovery. Obligees can also look for red flags, such as lifestyle changes, which indicate the obligor is making more money.

Income changes, along with any other ground for modification, must be mostly involuntary. Obligors cannot leave high-paying jobs in order to reduce their child support obligations. The same thing holds true for alimony reductions. Circumstantial evidence of intentional underemployment includes social media posts about high support payments.

Buffalo, MN Family Law Attorneys and Expense Changes

In a few states, parental income, and specifically the obligor’s income, is basically the only factor to consider. But Minnesota is an income share state. Child support payments in these states are designed to give the children the same standard of living they would have had if their parents were still married.

So, in Wright County, expense changes could prompt payment changes. Some expenses, such as insurance costs, are factored into the child support guidelines. Others, such as private school tuition costs, are not factored in.

Expense changes will not support a motion to modify child support unless they were unanticipated at the time the decree was entered. Daycare expenses are a good example. These changes are inevitable. Children get older, leave daycare, and attend school. The added money obligees receive through elementary and middle school years helps them cope with the increased expenses which come during the high school years.

Moreover, expense changes must be in the best interests of the children. That’s different from the best interests of the parents. Private afterschool care might be much more convenient than the YMCA, but it may not necessarily be in the best interests of the child.

Emotional Changes

Speaking of children growing older, child support terminates at age 18, in most cases. Most decrees include language to that effect, but sometimes, a Buffalo, MN family law attorney needs to file a motion to modify based on age, marriage, emancipation, or whatever.

Not all emotional changes are this dramatic. As mentioned, Minnesota is an income share state. So, the parenting time division is relevant to the child support obligation. As children get older, visitation time often changes as well. Eight or ten overnights a month might become a dozen or more.

If the emotional change is significant, the judge will probably adjust the child support obligation appropriately. Usually, this adjustment is just a matter of recalculating the guideline amount using the correct number of overnights. Smaller changes, such as children staying with Mom after school, probably do not qualify as significant.

Reach Out to a Compassionate Lawyer

Child support obligation amounts are not set in stone. For a free consultation with an experienced Buffalo, MN family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

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Buffalo Lawyers

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