How and When Should a Hutchinson, MN Lawyer Modify Parenting Plans?

Relocation is the most common basis for parenting plan modification in McLeod County. Most people move about twelve times during their lifetimes. And, since most of these moves occur before age 40, most of them also involve young children. Legal modification is almost always necessary in these cases. Even a very short distance move often throws off things like pickup and drop-off schedules.

Onset or removal of parental disability is probably second. This disability could be behavioral (e.g. substance abuse), physical, emotional, or almost anything else. Generally, if the disability impairs or impaired daily functions in any way, a motion to modify the parenting plan may be appropriate.

In any situation, it’s important for a Hutchinson, MN lawyer to legally modify the parenting plan. Side agreements, even if they are in writing, are not enforceable in family court. So, when one parent unilaterally changes the terms, the other parent has no legal options, even if that parent made life changes in reliance on the side agreement. Additionally, there are issues in all parenting plan modifications that only an experienced Hutchinson, MN lawyer can properly address.

Parenting Plans and Child Support

Before we go further, we should make one point clear. A motion to modify often addresses both visitation and financial support. Especially in income share states like Minnesota, there is usually some interplay between these two things.

However, the issues are separate. A parent can never link child support and child visitation. That linkage basically holds the child for ransom. If a parent feels s/he should get more money or pay less, there must be a motion to modify.

Hutchinson, MN Lawyers and Best Interests

Minnesota law states that judges may modify parenting plans only if the modification is in the child’s best interests. Many motions fail because either the parents or their lawyers do not understand this concept.

There is a big difference between the best interests of the child and the best interests of the parent. If the motion focuses on the latter instead of the former, the motion will probably fail. For example, assume Wilma wants to take Pebbles and move out of Bedrock. That move may be in her best interests, because it is a fresh start. But the move may not be in Pebbles’ best interests. She must leave everything and everyone familiar, including her BFF Bam Bam and her dad Fred.

To assist judges in making this determination, and to help Hutchinson, MN lawyers draft settlement agreements that the judge will approve, the law lays out a number of factors in this area, such as:

  • Child’s environment,
  • Any special needs which require special services,
  • Parental preference,
  • Child’s preference,
  • Any physical abuse, and
  • How the move would affect the child’s relationships with other family members.

So, if Wilma wants to win her motion, she must focus on these factors, as opposed to her preferences. Perhaps the new neighborhood has a better preschool for Pebbles. Or, perhaps Fred went off the deep end and committed family violence.

Resolving Disputes

Both relocation and disability-based modifications usually settle out of court. Typically, the parents agree on broad principles but disagree on specific issues. A mediator often helps in these situations.

During a half-day or a full-day session, the mediator hears from both sides and then tries to facilitate a settlement. Generally, this settlement involves some give and take. For example, Fred might consent to the move if Wilma agrees to increase Fred’s parenting time. Almost any such exchange is possible. However, as stated, child support or other financial issues cannot play a part in the parenting time modification process.

Quite often, Hutchinson, MN lawyers and their clients participate in pre-filing mediation. Especially in relocation matters, the parties usually have some time to negotiate before the move. That way, a lawyer can present an agreed motion to the judge. Most judges sign such motions as a matter of course.

Post-filing mediation is available as well, but it is more complex. These situations usually involve social services investigations and other legal matters.

Contact a Dedicated Attorney

Most parents frequently file parenting plan modification requests. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We have several area office locations.

Five Occasions for a Hutchinson, MN Family Law Attorney to Modify a Parenting Plan

There is a reason, other than portability, why divorce decrees are not stone tablets. These orders are never intended to be permanent. As a rule of thumb, they need to be modified at least once every three years.

This rule only applies to substantive modifications. Procedural modifications probably need to be even more frequent. Every time the children move to a new county, a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney should file a motion to transfer. If an emergency arises, this time-saving step could make a significant difference in the lives of your children. Such a move is also good for child support reasons. The bureaucrats and lawyers who oversee these provisions should live where the children live. Otherwise, things could get lost in translation.

In general, a McLeod County family law judge will modify the parenting plan if the circumstances of one or more parties (parent or children) have materially, substantially, and permanently changed. Additionally, the requested modification must be in the best interests of the children.

Timeshare Alterations

Over time, relationships between parents and children change. Sometimes, parents and children get into fights, and sometimes, certain events bring them closer for a little while. For example, Jamal may get angry at his dad for a legitimate reason, or Raul may feel closer to his father after a death in the family. But these things are temporary. Jamal’s anger will subside, and Raul’s mourning will not last long.

But in other cases, these emotional changes are permanent. If the emotional changes have practical consequences, it is easier for a Hutchinson, MN family law attorney to successfully modify the orders. Perhaps Julia is already spending more time with her non-residential dad. If the motion to modify the parenting plan just puts the current arrangement into writing, it’s usually not a problem to get the parties to agree to it and the judge to sign off on it.

Child Endangerment

Legally, the danger could either threaten the child’s physical well-being or the child’s long term emotional development. Emotional well-being is rather subjective. What one person, or one judge, considers harmful may not be a big deal to another judge. But pretty much everyone agrees on what constitutes physical danger. Some illustrations include:

  • Drugs: The adults probably do not give the children heroin or whatever illegal drugs they are using. But children may have access to the drugs or the drug paraphernalia, and if the adults are high, they probably are not supervising the children.
  • Alcohol: Any drug use probably threatens the children’s physical well-being. But only heavy alcohol use probably qualifies as a physical danger. A large dose of alcohol can kill a child. Additionally, alcohol causes some people to lose control. This point leads to the next bullet, which is. . .
  • Lifestyle: Physical, verbal, or emotional abuse almost always constitutes child endangerment. But unless the police have responded, abuse is often difficult for Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys to prove in court. If the children say they are afraid of their new stepmom or they do not want to stay in the house, this point is easier to establish.

If the drug use or abuse issues are bad enough, a McLeod County family law judge may sign an emergency order that removes a child from a house, or bars contact between parent and child, pending a hearing.

Either Parent’s Relocation

Timing is very important in parenting time divisions. If Mom moves even fifteen or twenty minutes further away from Dad, that minor change could throw everything off balance.

Some parents make side-agreements in these cases. They assume there is no reason to involve Hutchinson, MN family law attorneys in something they can work out among themselves. That’s a misguided attitude. Side agreements, even if they are in writing and signed, are not enforceable in family court. If one parent unilaterally decides to go back to the way things were before, the other parent has no recourse. Always make sure that the judge approves any changes.

Unremitting Parenting Time Violations

According to James Bond novelist Ian Fleming, “Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, and three times is enemy action.” If a parent consistently ignores court orders, even something simple like a drop-off time, the parent is not just disrespecting the other parent. That person is challenging the court’s authority. If the violations escalate (ten minutes late in January, fifteen minutes late in February, and so on), a modification is easier to make.

Judges usually consider other factors as well, such as whether the parties agreed to the original parenting plan and the amount of communication, if any, between the parents. Text messages are your friends.

Residential Parent’s Death

If the residential parent passes away, the non-residential parent usually assumes full custody of the children. But that’s not always the case. Some parents are so physically or emotionally distant from their children that such a transfer would be too much of a shock.

Connect with Dedicated Lawyers

A parenting plan can technically be modified at any time. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson, MN Family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Can a Hutchinson Family Law Lawyer Make My Ex Help with College Costs?

Nationwide, college tuition has increased fivefold since 1985, to an average of $22,432 per year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Put another way, the four years of college cost more than the eighteen years of child-rearing which preceded college admission. Additionally, the $22,432 does not represent the total cost of a college education. That figure does not include living expenses and the dreaded “incidentals” category.

In Minnesota, child support always ends at 18 or upon graduation from high school. There is no way, even via a hidden loophole, to force a parent to pay for college expenses. However, voluntary college tuition agreements are enforceable in the Gopher State. Many times, if the children are young at the time of divorce, a Hutchinson family law lawyer will include a reserve clause in the decree. The parties agree to table college tuition reimbursement for the time being and take up the issues when the children are older.

Only support provisions in the decree or other court paperwork are enforceable, according to Minnesota family law. Side agreements, even if they are in writing, are never enforceable in a McLeod County family court. These agreements may not meet the legal definition of a contract, so they may not be enforceable elsewhere either.

Defining Key Terms

Items like tuition, living expenses, and transportation, which are the three major components of a college tuition reimbursement plan, seem straightforward. However, upon closer inspection, they are quite subjective. So, a Hutchinson family law lawyer must aggressively stand up for your financial rights in these matters.

There is a significant difference between community college tuition, in-state public school tuition, out-of-state public school tuition, and private school tuition. Tuition usually includes a number of semi-optional fees as well, such as a meal plan or athletic use fees.

Additionally, most students can work and/or borrow money to pay for college. How much they should work, and how much they should borrow, affects the amount of tuition the parents must pay. Scholarships affect the amount due as well.

In terms of living expenses, there is a cost difference between a dormitory room and a private, off-campus apartment. There is also a difference between a regular dorm and a private dorm, or a one-bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom apartment with three other roommates.

Finally on this point, what constitutes “transportation” expenses? Does that mean a private vehicle along with money for gas and other expenses, two round-trip bus tickets home every semester, or something in between?

Factors a Hutchinson Family Law Lawyer Uses

A number of states, including nearby Illinois, do require both parents to help pay for their children’s college expenses. Some common factors include:

  • Each Parent’s Financial Situation: Total household income after remarriage is generally irrelevant in child support situations. But it is relevant when determining the ability to help pay for college.
  • Child’s Financial Resources: This factor was discussed above. Once they turn 18, people can borrow money, get jobs, and otherwise participate in the economy.
  • Child’s Academic Performance: Both pre-college and college performance may be relevant. A four-year university is not for everyone. Moreover, if the student’s grades fall below a certain level, it’s reasonable to ask if college was the right choice.

These factors are nonbinding, but they do matter a lot. As mentioned, many parents insert reserve clauses into their divorce decrees. Later, Hutchinson family law lawyers often resolve these matters in mediation. The three mentioned factors are a good road map to follow during such a proceeding.

Some Practical Concerns

Many parents begin paying for college when their children are small. They put money into a 529 savings plan or a prepaid tuition plan with a public university. When the time comes to divide educational costs, these parents should receive credit for those expenditures. Arguably, they should receive more than dollar-for-dollar credit. Their forethought and previous sacrifices should mean something.

The payee may be a concern as well. The residential parent is no longer automatically qualified to receive college cost reimbursement funds as trustee. The money could go to the institution directly or to the child.

Finally, one child’s college attendance often affects the other children in the family. If the child attends school locally or comes home frequently, downsizing to a smaller dwelling may not be a realistic option. Under Minnesota law, the non-residential parent is entitled to a child support reduction. But the college tuition reimbursement agreement could also include provisions with regard to regular child support. The judge will almost certainly approve any such agreement, as long as it is in the best interests of the children.

Reach Out to Aggressive Attorneys

College tuition reimbursement is not part of child support in Minnesota, but many parents make it that way. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. Convenient payment plans are available.

How Do Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys Resolve Custody Disputes?

Custody, visitation, and parenting time issues touch almost every McLeod County household at one time or another. Over half of Minnesota children either live in a single parent household, with a biological parent and a stepparent, or in some other non-traditional arrangement.

Furthermore, most people relocate about eleven times in their adult lifetimes. Any relocation usually upsets the delicate parenting time balance set forth in the divorce decree.

Because of this combination, Hutchinson family law attorneys handle numerous custody and visitation modification actions. Typically, these matters are agreed. After an expensive and protracted divorce action, many parents do not want to go back to court again over modification actions. If the parties at least have an agreement in principle, a Hutchinson family law attorney can hammer out the details and submit the agreement for judicial approval.

But not all modification matters are agreed. If they are contested, they usually go through the following three stages.

Step One: Best Interests of the Children

Any parenting time modification must be in the best interests of the children. There is a presumption that children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents. If the parenting time division strays significantly from 50-50 to the 80-20 area, a McLeod County family law judge will probably not approve it straightaway.

The plan could still pass judicial muster if the parent requesting modification can overcome the equal division presumption. For example, one parent may develop a substance abuse problem or marry someone with a history of domestic violence.

Additionally, the judge must consider a number of factors. Note that all these factors relate to the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents:

  • Needs of the child,
  • Preference of a child,
  • Any history of domestic abuse,
  • Preference and ability of each parent, and
  • Ability to co-parent.

At the Step One phase, the judge’s conclusions are preliminary. If there is any way that the modification might be in the best interests of the children, the court usually allows the action to go forward into the evidence-gathering and resolution phases. The alternative is to throw the matter out of court, and most judges hesitate to take such drastic action.

Step Two: Social Services Investigation

Assuming the action has some legal merit, most judges order social services investigations. The selection process varies by court and jurisdiction. Some judges just assign a social worker at random, and other judges give a Hutchinson family law attorney some input into the selection process.

That input could be important. For example, many modification actions include Parental Alienation Syndrome allegations. Some parents do things like change schedules at the last minute or say derogatory things about the other parent. These actions are designed to drive an emotional wedge between the children and the other parent.

Most people in the family services area know what PAS is and appreciate its dangers. But that’s not true of all social workers.

During the investigation, the social worker typically interviews the parents and children, examines school report cards and other documentary evidence, and talks to doctors, neighbors, and other people who know about the situation. Then, the social worker submits a report to the judge.

A Hutchinson family law attorney can help you put your best foot forward during this process. Additionally, a lawyer can advocate for you when the judge decides what to do in light of the social services investigation report.

Step Three: Mediation

At this point, if the social worker makes clear recommendations, many modification actions settle out of court. But sometimes, the recommendations are rather murky and could be interpreted in several ways. If that’s the case, the matter often goes to mediation.

A third-party mediation, who is often a retired Hutchinson family law attorney, listens to both sides then tries to engineer a settlement. Since the parties stay in separate rooms for most of the session, there is little emotional drama. As a result, the parties focus on the issues. So, mediation works about 75 percent of the time. If it does not work, the case usually goes to a trial before the judge.

Sometimes, Step Three is actually Step One. As mentioned, many times, the parties agree about relocation or other general issues but disagree on the specifics. Sometimes, a neutral Hutchinson family law attorney-mediator can bring the parties together on the details, so there’s no need to go to court.

Contact Savvy Lawyers

Divorce decrees are never meant to be set in stone, so legal modification is pretty much inevitable. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Five Reasons Hutchinson Divorce Lawyers Need to Change Your Decree

In many civil cases, such as car crash claims, judicial orders close the matter. Typically, these orders contain claims waivers. So, it’s difficult or impossible to re-open the case.

Divorce decrees are different, specifically with regard to visitation and parenting time matters. In these situations, the divorce decree was never meant to be permanent. Typically, a Hutchinson divorce lawyer must modify these decrees at least once every three or four years.

If both parents agree on the change, at least in principle, these matters are straightforward. Even if there are some lingering disagreements, a Hutchinson divorce lawyer can usually iron them out rather quickly and then present the agreement to the judge. Usually, McLeod County judges approve these agreements. Sometimes, they do not even hold hearings.

If the motion is contested, the moving party must prove that circumstances have materially changed and the requested modification is in the best interests of the children. Note that the best interests of the children is different from the preferred outcome for the children or the best interests of the parents.


Statistically, most divorced parents remarry more than once. Overall, the divorce rate is less than 50 percent. But roughly two-thirds of second marriages end in divorce. For third marriages, the divorce rate increases to three out of four. New marriages fundamentally alter family dynamics, especially if both spouses have children from prior relationships.

So, a new spouse is one of the most common reasons for a custody or visitation modification. However, the change is not automatic. The new situation must affect the children. For example, an adult might have a prior domestic violence conviction or a stepchild might have documented serious emotional issues.

Job Change

Job changes often affect alimony and child support obligations, since these moves usually involve a lower or greater salary. The change might also affect parenting time. Most new jobs usually mean longer (or shorter) commutes and different hours.

Typically, the parenting time changes are rather subtle. For example, instead of picking up the children at 6:00 p.m, Dad may not be able to get to the house until 6:30. In these situations, many parents make “side agreements.” Often, these agreements may be a text message string. Such pacts are unenforceable in family court. If one parent unilaterally decides to go back to the way things were, the other parent has no recourse.


Most people relocate quite frequently. Perhaps they change jobs, want to be closer to (or further away from) family, have financial problems, buy a house, or need a change of scenery. Some of these changes affect the children, and some do not.

McLeod County is very spread out. Even if a family just moves a few blocks, the move could alter the delicate pickup and dropoff balance, especially on weeknights. If you need to make changes, make sure a Hutchinson divorce lawyer puts them in writing and a judge signs off on the change. Otherwise, the parents could wind up back in court on an enforcement motion. Even if the parent only committed technical violations, the punishment could be severe.

Onset or Removal of Disability

These changes are quite common as well. A serious illness could mean time-consuming treatments away from home and lack of energy at home. Other people develop, or overcome, substance abuse problems. Finally, many parents successfully complete court-ordered parenting or anger management classes.

All these situations directly affect the children. Furthermore, they are clearly substantial changes. However, the change must also be permanent. For example, broken bones, even serious ones, usually heal eventually. As a rule of thumb, if the disability will not last more than three or four months, a judge will probably not modify the orders. The parties would just be back in court a few weeks later.

Children’s Ages

Kids grow up and their schedules get busy. This change is inevitable. So, a judge will probably not modify orders because the children are older.

While these physical changes are generally predictable, emotional changes are different. Sometimes, parents and children drift apart, especially after many years of part-time parenting. When children are young, if they refuse to go on a visit, a parent can force, cajole, bribe, or threaten them. The older the children get, the less effective these things become. Eventually, a Hutchinson divorce lawyer may need to change the decree to account for these emotional changes.

Count on Experienced Attorneys

Families change, and divorce decrees must change as well. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson divorce lawyer, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

How Do Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys Modify Divorce Decrees?

In most civil cases, the final order puts the matter to bed. For example, almost all personal injury settlements include legal waivers. As one of my law professors said, victims only get one trip to the salad bar of justice.

But marriage dissolution resolutions are different. These orders almost always contain ongoing provisions, such as DSOs (Domestic Support Obligations, such as alimony) and child visitation provisions. So, a divorce decree is more a beginning point than an endpoint.

Families change frequently, and orders quickly become outdated. Therefore, most people should modify their divorce decrees at least once every three years. A legal modification with a Hutchinson family law attorney is the best way, and often the only way, to keep the peace. Informal side agreements, no matter how well-intentioned they might be, are always unenforceable.

When Can Hutchinson Family Law Attorneys Modify Divorce Orders?

Frequent modifications are the best way to keep up with constant changes. Even a slight increase or decrease in income can affect DSOs. Similarly, if a family moves just a few miles, the delicate pickup/drop-off balance may be hopelessly thrown off kilter. So, a judge can modify a decree if:

  • Changed circumstances affect
  • The best interests of the children.

Hutchinson family law attorneys must establish both these prongs. Assume Sue wants to move her family closer to her job. The proposed move is definitely in Sue’s best interests, but it may or may not be in the children’s best interest.

Generally, a McLeod County judge can entertain a modification action when the parents agree one is necessary, if the children are in emotional or physical danger, or if at least two years have passed since the most recent order was entered.

Why Should the Judge Modify a Divorce Order?

As mentioned, Hutchinson family law attorneys can use pretty much anything to establish changed circumstances. Many times, the impact on the children is mixed. For example, a promotion at work usually means higher compensation and fewer hours at home. The best interests of the children usually involve a written presumption (children benefit from consistent and meaningful contact with both parents) and an unwritten one (children need consistency and stability).

Most DSO modifications rely on changed circumstances. It’s now easier to win these modification actions. A few years ago, Minnesota’s modification law changed and dropped the substantial change in circumstances requirement. At a minimum, the change must be:

  • Meaningful (any income change under 5 percent is usually not meaningful),
  • Permanent,
  • Unanticipated at the time the prior order was entered, and
  • Voluntary.

A voluntary financial change means that people cannot quit high-paying jobs to reduce their child or spousal support obligations.

Visitation and custod changes usually hing on the best interests of the children. Some factors to consider include:

  • Childrens’ needs,
  • Parental and child preferences,
  • Ability to co-parent, and
  • Parental emotional and physical health.

In 2015, lawmakers added the following presumption to this part of the Revised Code: “The court shall consider both parents as having the capacity to develop and sustain nurturing relationships with their children unless there are substantial reasons to believe otherwise. In assessing whether parents are capable of sustaining nurturing relationships with their children, the court shall recognize that there are many ways that parents can respond to a child’s needs with sensitivity and provide the child love and guidance, and these may differ between parents and among cultures.”

How Do Judges Resolve Motions to Modify?

If the parents agree on the modification, and a Hutchinson family law attorney formalizes it, most judges will approve the agreement after only a cursory hearing. Minnesota law has a strong presumption in favor of agreed resolutions. Generally, it’s always best for parents to work these things out between themselves.

If the parents do not agree, the matter will probably go to mediation. A third party, who is usually an unaffiliated Hutchinson family law attorney, works to facilitate a settlement between the parties. Mediated settlements are the next best thing to agreed settlements. Mediation decreases legal expenses, gives the parties more control over the outcome, and increases civility.

If both informal settlement negotiations and mediation fail, which is extremely rare, the final trial usually takes place before a judge without a jury.

Rely on Experienced Lawyers

Most divorce cases never “close.” They just lie dormant for a few years, and then a motion to modify revives them. For a free consultation with an experienced Hutchinson family law attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle matters in McLeod County and nearby jurisdictions.

Parenting-Related Modifications in Minnesota

Because we live in such a mobile society, Minnesota divorce orders were never intended to be permanent. That’s especially true with regard to child support and parenting timeshare arrangements. Unlike alimony, Minnesota child support is almost entirely income based. So, even a rather slight change could support a modification. Furthermore, many parenting time schedules involve a very delicate balance of activities, locations, pickup times, and drop-off locations. Again, even the slightest change could have major repercussions.

When these life changes occur, it’s very important to work with an attorney. Informal “side agreements,” even if they are written, are unenforceable in Buffalo family courts. If one parent unilaterally reneges on the pact, the other parent has no recourse, no matter how long it’s been or what the change was.

Child Support Modifications in Minnesota

Most people change jobs between ten and fifteen times in their working lives. Almost all such changes usually involve more (or less) money. Furthermore, even if a person stays at the same job, compensation usually goes up (or down) periodically.

Legally, income-related changes must be so significant that they render the existing order unfair or unreasonable. That’s quite a mouthful. To make things a bit easier, the Legislature embedded a presumption in the law that a 20 percent change, either up or down, has that effect. The change must be permanent and must also be made in good faith. A temporary influx of overtime does not justify an increase, and obligors cannot leave high-paying jobs, so their child support payments will decrease.

Other changes might also affect the child support obligation. Since Minnesota is an income shares state, part of the initial calculation usually includes the number of overnights for both residential and non-residential parents. If the ratio changes by more than 20 percent, a Wright County judge will presume that there has been a substantial change in circumstances. A lesser change might qualify as well, but the moving party would need to produce additional evidence.

Expenses sometimes play a part in initial determinations as well. For example, children grow up, at least from a biological standpoint, so they no loner need daycare. If that’s the case, a Minnesota judge might re-evaluate the child support obligation. Sometimes child-rearing expenses vanish altogether, at least as far as the law is concerned. Children turn 18 and grow up altogether. Or they may get married, die, join the armed forces, or obtain legal emancipation.

In general, none of these modifications are automatic, even age-related adjustments. The judge must rewrite the existing paperwork.

Parenting Time Modifications in Minnesota

Most people move about eleven times. Many times, these relocations are job-related. So, moves may involve both child support and parenting time modifications. Child support is usually based on the income of the parents, and parenting time arrangements are usually based on the best interests of the children. Both these things almost always change regularly.

Minnesota law contains a presumption that it is in the best interests of the children for them to have consistent and meaningful contact with both of their parents. Items like domestic abuse obviously rebut this presumption, but other evidence may suffice as well. There is also a list of factors to consider. Lawmakers recently refined the list. Some of the more prominent items include:

  • Child’s Special Needs: This factor is a recent addition. Some children have educational, health, or other needs that one parent can meet very well, and the other parent may struggle to deal with.
  • Parents’ Physical and Mental Health: Some parents have physical health issues, perhaps a chronic condition or an injury, that limit their mobility. Others struggle with depression or substance abuse. These limitations could affect the parenting time distribution. Likewise, if there was an issue and that issue goes away, the split might need to be reconsidered.
  • Child’s Preference: Unlike some other states, Minnesota does not place an age label here. Instead, Minnesota judges may consider the preference of any children mature enough to indicate such a preference without being influence by one parent or the other.
  • Status Quo: Family law judges like stability. Therefore, if the current arrangement is working, even if there are problems, many judges hesitate to change it. “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know,” as the old saying goes.
  • Ability to Co-Parent: Some parents are extremely aggressive in child custody matters. Usually on the advice of counsel, they fight every detail and refuse to compromise. Most Minnesota judges assume that if the parent is confrontational before court, that person will also be confrontational after court. Poor co-parents often make poor residential parents.

Other factors include any agreements between the parties that are also in the child’s best interest, along with the needs of each child.


As a general rule, most people need to modify their divorce orders at least once every two or three years. For a free consultation with an Minnesota Family Law Attorney, contact Carlson & Jones, P.A. We routinely handle cases in Minnesota.

Call For A Free Consultation (877) 344-1555Free Consultation

Buffalo Lawyers

215 East Highway 55, Suite 201
Buffalo, MN 55313

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

Office Details
Map and Directions

Brainerd Lawyers

17025 Commercial Park Rd, Suite 2
Brainerd, MN 56401

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

Office Details
Map and Directions

Hutchinson Lawyers

114 Main Street North
Hutchinson, MN 55350

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

Office Details
Map and Directions

Minnetonka Lawyers

3911 Ridgedale Dr, Suite 404E
Minnetonka, MN 55305

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

Office Details
Map and Directions