Questions about divorce?

Divorce can be confusing and overwhelming, even in the easiest of cases, and especially if there are children involved. Here are some common divorce issues when children are involved in a divorce.

Minnesota Guidelines for Custody of Minors


Legal vs Physical Custody

There are two different considerations to look at when making custody decisions. The first is Legal Custody, where the parent(s) has the legal authority to make long-term decisions about the child’s upbringing and well-being. These decisions could include topics like academics, medical, religious, etc. The second thing to consider is physical custody, which determines where the child lives, and therefore where they are provided food, shelter, and other necessities.  

Sole vs Joint Custody

The parent with sole custody of a minor is deemed the major decision maker for the child. This parent makes decisions such as where they live, what schools they attend, and many others. The parent without these rights is not stripped of all parental authority, though. They can be allowed visitation rights, where there is an arranged time that they can be with the child. These are subject to each individual case and what seems best for the child. In a joint custody agreement, both parents have the right to weigh in on decision making for the child. Because both parents have an equal say, if there is ever a time where they do not agree, the decision can be taken to family court or mediation in order to find what is best for the child. In order to make the decision of joint custody, things that are considered are the ability of the parents to cooperate on both small and large decisions, their ability to resolve disputes, whether it would be detrimental if one parent had sole authority, and whether there was domestic abuse involved between the parents. There are also variations from these two kinds of custody. For example, the parents could share joint custody of the minor, but one parent has primary physical custody. In this case, both parents have a say in the decision making for the child, but the child lives with one parent more often than the other. When making the decision between sole vs joint, the court will always look at what is best for the child both in the short- and long-term.  

Do Children Have a Say?

The question of whether the minor child can have a say in the decision on which parent to live with is answered differently in each state. In Minnesota, there is not a set age limit on when the child can decide. The court will take into consideration the wishes of the child, as long as the child is able to sufficiently provide independent and reasoned preferences to these decisions.  

Can’t Agree?

In the case where the parents can not agree on roles each will play in the children’s lives after the divorce, the court will determine the schedule instead. This decision will take into account the best interest of the child, which can be done by ordering a custody/parenting time evaluation by a neutral private evaluator. These evaluations usually take between three to six months and the costs can vary between the evaluator chosen. In the end, the evaluator will make their recommendations to the court, in which the court will usually follow.  

Child Support

Child support is often a sensitive subject between families. What the court takes into account when looking at child support is the gross monthly income of both parents compared to the other expenses, such as daycare costs and medical insurance. Another factor is the parenting time of each parent, and how much time the child spends between houses. Lastly, it is important to know that whether the court’s child support decision is being respected by both parents or not, it is completely independent of a parent’s right to see his/her child.  

Having a Parenting Plan

Divorce is tricky, but adding a child into the decision making can make it a very difficult time for families. The court will always do its best in order to make sure the decisions made will be the best for any minors involved. Most often, the final decision will be put into a “parenting plan”, that indicates the decisions made in writing. The parenting plan is what parents submit to the court, allocating parenting time, holiday visitation, etc. It is always required, but how detailed the plan is is up to the parents.  

Disclaimer: No information provided on this website should be perceived as legal advice. The content of this website is only intended to provide general information. Only the establishment of an attorney-client relationship with Buchin Law Office can lead to the inception of legal advice from any member of the office team.


Do not do it alone, get help from a qualified Minnesota Divorce Attorney.