Issues about child custody are often the hardest-fought battles in family law. Child custody can also be one of the most subjective determinations. When there is a contested child custody issue that a court needs to decide, the judge will make the decision based on particular factors set out in the Minnesota statutes. These factors are located at Minnesota statute 518.17. The court will weigh each of these factors and then determine which parent is more suitable to be the child’s custodian. If you have lost your child custody case, the key to understanding what happened usually lies in a better comprehension of the best interest factors.
The court’s main goal for any child custody determination is to safeguard the health and welfare of the child. If there are any issues in your home or in your parenting style that the court believes present a danger to the child, this will severely impact your chances of successfully gaining custody of your children. Some of the more common issues seen in these types of inquiries include substance abuse and domestic violence. If there have been accusations or charges of domestic violence between you and the other parent, this will weigh heavily against an award of custody. Similarly, if you have a documented history of substance abuse, the court is likely to believe that you will not be able to take care of the child’s health and daily needs. Keep in mind that the more remote in time your substance abuse problems and the longer track record of sobriety, the less the substance abuse will ultimately weigh in the custody case.
Another reason why parents will often lose a custody case is the refusal or inability to work with the other parent in terms of parenting decisions. The willingness of each parent to encourage the child to love and bond with the other parent is a very important factor that the court will weigh heavily. If you have shown a refusal to cooperate with the other parent, then court will likely doubt your willingness to help the child maintain a close bond with the parent.
Finally, another reason a parent may lose the custody case is that he or she has not historically been the primary caregiver for the children. Stability and consistency is very important for children. The court will look to who historically has often been the one taking care of the children’s daily needs, such as getting them dressed, bathing them, taking them to school, and other mundane tasks.