When you are going through a separation or a divorce (and you have children), you are going to have to work with your spouse to come up with an agreement that works best for everyone. That being said, child custody can be the hardest part of a divorce. Nobody wants to give up time that they could spend with their children. However, it is important that you think about their needs when coming up with the right agreement.
Here are some types of custody that are accepted by Minnesota law.
First, there is legal and physical custody.
- Legal custody allows parents to make all of the decisions about the children, including where they are raised, how they are raised, and where they will go to school. It also involves health care.
- Physical custody determines where the children get to live. If you get physical custody, you are expected to care for them, feed them, and give them a good home.
Then, this goes a step further into joint and sole custody.
- Joint custody is when parents work together.
- Sole custody gives the responsibility to only one parent.
When you put them together, this leaves four types of custody that you need to think about for your children.
- Joint legal custody allows both parents to work together to make all major decisions about their children. Though this mostly includes their education and health care decisions, it essentially means that both parents must make decisions together about what is best for their children.
- Sole legal custody means that one parent can make all of the decisions about their children’s lives. Though they may consult with the other parent, it is their decision when it comes to how they want their children to live, where they want them to go to school, and about their health.
- Joint physical custody allows both parents to be in their children’s lives on a regular basis. They will split their time together equally so that they both have plenty of time with their children. The children will live with both parents in their homes, and both parents will be involved in their daily lives.
- Sole physical custody means that one parent is going to take care of the children. They will live with only one of the parents every day, and he or she is in charge of their daily lives. If one parent is granted sole physical custody, the other parent is allowed visitation time.
When determining child custody, you and your spouse will determine if you want sole or joint legal custody and sole or joint physical custody, giving you a lot of options. Once that is determined, you can come up with an arrangement that works best for everyone. If needed, you should also use this time to come up with a visitation schedule for the parent who wasn’t granted sole physical custody.
So, how is custody determined?
- Mutual agreement. It is best for the children if both parents can compromise to come up with an arrangement. To do so, they have to be honest with themselves about what is best for the children and who should take care of them and when.
- Wishes of the parents. If the parents can’t come up with an arrangement, the courts will listen to both of them to help to come up with a child custody arrangement.
- Wishes of the children. If your children are old enough, they may be able to let the courts know who they want to live with.
- Who cares for them the most? The courts will look at the arrangements that are currently going on. Even though they live with both parents, one may be doing more of the day to day activities with the children, such as feeding them, homework, etc.
- Who has the time for them? The courts will also look at work schedules and activities to figure out who is more able to look after the children. A doctor who is on-call several days a week won’t be able to have the children overnight those nights.
Determining custody can be the hardest thing that you will ever have to do. However, you need to make sure that your children are as unaffected by your divorce as possible. If that means leaving them in their home with the other parent, you are going to need to be the bigger person and let them!
Contact us for all of your legal needs. We will be glad to help you through this delicate subject so you can determine what is best for your children.