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.
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.