Child Custody Modification in Minnesota

During many divorce proceedings, child custody is a major concern and it needs to be handled carefully. The best way to handle custody modification is to have a qualified child custody attorney working for you. Many different circumstances can complicate the child custody matter. In some cases, a motion to modify custody may become necessary. There are two types of child custody, according to Minnesota law: legal custody and physical custody. Depending on many factors, parents may share custody as determined by the court. Within those types of custody, shared custody may also include joint legal custody or joint physical custody of the child. A motion to modify custody can be made if either parent is unhappy with the custody award.

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motion to modify custodyFactors in Child Custody Modification

The biggest – and most important – factor in a motion to modify custody agreements is the best interest of the child. If both parents agree to a custody modification, if there has been denial or interference with parenting time or if the child is emotionally or physically endangered, the court will hear your petition for a child custody modification. Once there has been a custody modification, there cannot be a motion to modify child custody for 2 years. If parents have legal joint custody, the process for custody modification is the same as motion to modify custody for the primary caregiver. It is important to contact a local, qualified child custody attorney to assist with the process to modify custody.

Contested Changes to Modify Custody

In many cases, parents do not agree to the change in the child custody agreement. In these cases, there are certain circumstances in which the child custody agreement can be changed. This may be a circumstance to modify custody of the child. For example, the child has not been “consentingly” integrated into their non-custodial family. To change the custody award, it must be proved that the child is endangered in the custodial family. A child custody attorney can assist in filing a motion to modify child custody and help in understanding your parental rights.

Child Endangerment in Child Custody Modification Cases

motion to modify custodyThe circumstances in which a child may be removed from the custodial parent’s custody and file a petition for modify custody include:

  • The child’s wishes to live with the non-custodial parent combined with some additional evidence to the endangerment
  • Physical, sexual, or emotional abuse by the custodial parent
  • Neglect or very poor discipline in the custodial home adversely affecting the child’s education or behavior

There is typically a petition for modify custody because of a combination of the above events. It is rare for the court to approve a modification solely on the child’s preference, but it does happen. In Minnesota, there is no certain age at which a child may request to change which parent they live with. But the older they are, the more their preference is taken into account. The child’s preference cannot be the sole reason they are removed from one of the parent’s homes. Proof of endangerment is still necessary. An experienced child custody attorney can help with gathering and submitting proof of endangerment.

Professionals Involved in a Motion to Modify Custody

motion to modify custodyIt is within your best interest to have an independent third party (such as a mental health professional) involved. There are also other individuals that may be involved in your motion to modify custody, your child custody attorney can help with the selection and necessitation of those individuals. They can help you establish the preference of the child, as well as the reasons for that preference. Keep your child custody attorney involved and apprised of the situation as the process and details vary from case to case. This will also allow you to memorialize any documents made as a court order by submitting them to the judge for approval from the court. Unofficial agreements are generally not enforceable. An experienced child custody attorney will know the procedure to follow in this case to modify custody.

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