There are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody is the capacity to make decisions for your child, such as medical decisions, educational decisions, and even travel decisions. Physical custody is the daily care and residence of the child. These types of custody can be shared between parents (joint) or held with just one parent (sole).
We understand that there is nothing more important than the safety and care of a child. We listen to our clients’ concerns and take a child-focused approach that weeds out the mudslinging in order to build a custodial arrangement that supports the child and his/her/their caregivers.
In Minnesota, if parents are unmarried when a child is born, the birthing mother has presumptive sole legal and physical custody of the child until a court orders custody for the other parent. Joint physical custody does not necessarily mean an equal parenting time schedule just as sole physical custody does not necessarily dictate a certain percentage or parenting time.
Our approach is to explore the possibility of working with the other party to amicably reach an agreement. We value the importance of reducing parental conflict to create long-term co-parenting relationships.
If a settlement is not possible, we will pour over every detail of your matter to file a strong petition that supports your claim for custody. Minnesota law bases initial custody determinations on a list of what is called the best interest factors. We are intimately familiar with this standard and practiced at tailoring our clients’ requests to meet this legal standard.
Once the case is filed, Minnesota requires the use of Alternative Dispute Resolution and many counties provide that in the form of Social Early Neutral Evaluations (SENE). This means the courts encourage and/or provide an opportunity for the parties to meet with a third-party neutral mediator to evaluate your case and help you reach an agreement. Our attorneys are experienced in working with SENE providers to help you reach a quick and amicable resolution and avoid the financial and emotional cost and time of battling it out in court.
At times, a custody order may require a change (modification). Modifying custody in Minnesota is a high standard and generally requires a showing of endangerment to the children if the parties do not agree to a change in custody. Our attorneys will work with you on the best strategy to modify your current order—either working collaboratively with the other party or requesting a modification through the courts. We are experienced at arguing cases under this standard.
When a settlement is not possible, we will not shy away from representing your custodial interests through a contested court proceeding, even trial, if necessary. We are experienced in working with fact witnesses, expert witnesses, and voluminous discovery (documents), to take your case as far as necessary to achieve your goals. Unlike other firms, we even take matters to the appellate level if we believe the original judge made a mistake in the law. We can advocate for your custodial needs from A to Z.
Beyond procedure, we also get to know our clients. We become invested so that your case is more than a file. We understand that this is your life! We also understand the diversity of today’s family—be it same-sex marriages and partnerships, cross-cultural families, biracial children, or interstate matters. We have experience with every type of family so we can take your unique family life and translate it for the court so you feel understood and heard.