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Child Custody

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Minnesota Child Custody Attorneys

Minnesota Child Custody Laws

Child custody battles are often the most stressful and frustrating part of any divorce or paternity case. You deserve a legal team that will give your Minnesota child custody case the attention it deserves.

At Johnson/Turner Legal, we’re committed to shouldering the burden of child custody battles so parents can focus on what’s really important: their kids.

Dedicated & Caring Custody Lawyers Serving All of Minnesota

As part of that commitment, every client we get receives a team consisting of a Minnesota child custody attorney, two paralegals, a client engagement specialist, and a life coach. Our team isn’t only there to handle your case—we’ll also help you manage stress and maintain a strong relationship with your children moving forward into your custody arrangement.

We know that for many parents, legal fees are a concern. The last thing we want parents to be worried about it whether they’ll be charged for a call, which is why we use a flat-fee pricing model. When you work with us, we tell you up-front how much your fees will be. At Johnson/Turner Legal, you pay for our services, not our time. That means you never have to worry about hidden fees or unexpected costs.

We have offices all over Minnesota – Forest LakeBlaineLake ElmoWayzata, and Woodbury – to better serve you. Get in touch to our location nearest you for more information about your rights under Minnesota custody laws.

Learn how a Minnesota child custody lawyer can help – contact us online or call (320) 299-4249 for a consultation!

Types of Custody in Minnesota

  • Physical Custody – Where the child lives; that is, in which parent’s house.
  • Legal Custody – Who makes major decisions regarding the child in the areas of education, medical and religion. This is generally assumed to be shared 50-50, and the courts are generally reluctant to change that balance unless there are some extreme circumstances involved.

How Is Custody Determined in Minnesota?

Everything the court does is intended to serve the best interest of the child. In determining what is the best interest of the child, the court considers:

  1. A child’s physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and other needs, and the effect of the proposed arrangements on the child’s needs and development;
  2. Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements or access to recommended services;
  3. The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference;
  4. Whether domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred in the parents’ or either parent’s household or relationship; the nature and context of the domestic abuse; and the implications of the domestic abuse for parenting and for the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs;
  5. Any physical, mental, or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child’s safety or developmental needs;
  6. The history and nature of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child;
  7. The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with parenting time;
  8. The effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community;
  9. The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life;
  10. The benefit to the child in maximizing parenting time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting parenting time with either parent;
  11. Except in cases in which domestic abuse as described in clause (4) has occurred, the disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with the other parent and to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and the other parent; and
  12. The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure of the child to parental conflict; and to utilize methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child.

Custody and Parenting Time Evaluation

As a parent, if you disagree about who should have custody or what the parenting time schedule should be, then a court will most likely order that an expert evaluate and determine what custody and parenting time arrangement will serve the best interest of the child.

The custody and parenting time evaluator will delve into the lives of the parents and the children. He or she will conduct psychological evaluations and, if necessary, chemical dependency evaluations. The evaluator will meet with the parents, the children, and other people who have watched the parents with their child, such as school counselors, grandparents, daycare providers, teachers, and coaches.

After the evaluation is complete, the evaluator will issue a recommendation regarding custody and parenting time directly to the court. Through this entire process, it is highly beneficial to have a child custody attorney in Minnesota to advocate for you.

Parenting Time Expediting

A Parenting Time Expeditor (PTE) is a court-appointed individual who is delegated the authority to work with parents to resolve disputes over the applicability and enforcement of parenting time orders. The PTE does not have the power to alter the court-ordered parenting time, but does have the power to resolve disputes regarding the application of the court-ordered parenting time. The role of a PTE is defined by Minn. Stat. § 518.1751.

Parties who have had a history of difficulty working together cooperatively in carrying out the court-ordered parenting time are good candidates for the appointment of a PTE. Also, parties who have or are considering agreeing on a parenting time schedule that allows a large degree of flexibility among the parents may be good candidates for the appointment of a PTE.

In both circumstances, if a dispute arises over such issues as dates of child exchanges, make-up time, whose holiday is it, trading parenting time to accommodate special events, or other parenting time disputes, the court system is not designed to provide quick resolutions of such disputes. Most of the time, by the time a party calls their attorney, schedules a hearing, files and serves motion paperwork and gets in front of a judge, the disputed parenting-time period is long past and too much money has been spent.

The PTE provides a much more responsive, and typically less expensive, means of resolving parenting time disputes. When a dispute arises, one of the parties contacts the PTE by phone, e-mail or mail to inform the PTE of the problem. Then the PTE will contact the other parent to hear from him or her about the problem. The PTE first attempts to facilitate an agreement between the parties to resolve the dispute, but if the parents are unable to agree, the PTE has the court-delegated authority to make a decision that is binding on the parties, subject only to an appeal to the district court. The entire process can be done in hours or days, rather than weeks or months and is typically much less expensive than the court alternative.

Typically, the parties divide the costs of the PTE’s services.

Guardian ad Litem

If the court is concerned that the well being of a child is compromised by either or both parents, it will appoint a Guardian ad Litem. The purpose of the Guardian ad Litem is often to make recommendations to the court regarding what custody and parenting time arrangement will be in the best interest of the child.

The 4 Phases of Child Custody You Can Expect

We break down our approach to child custody into four phases: The foundation-building phase, the settlement-focused phase, the litigation phase, and the conclusion phase.

Our child custody lawyers in Minnesota will walk you through each of these phases, so you know exactly what to expect if you bring us on board for your child custody battle.

The Foundation-Building Phase

During the foundation-building phase, we take the following steps:

  • Start with Johnson/Turner Legal. In our initial consultation, we’ll give you some pointers and share what to expect if you move forward with our firm. Once you decide to come on board, we’ll start moving forward with your case.
  • Summons and petition, or counter-petition. Depending on the circumstances of your case, we’ll either file a petition or a counter-petition, so you’re ready to proceed with the case.
  • Team building. Since we use a flat-fee pricing model, you can get to know our team without worrying about paying for calls. We want to make sure you feel supported before we proceed with your case.
  • Case building and strategy development. We’ll gather the appropriate documents for your case and start building a strategy tailored to your specific needs and circumstances.
  • Informal discovery. We’ll also request information that may be useful for your case from the other partner.
  • ICMC. We’ll conduct an initial meeting before the judge to learn more about your case, discuss issues, and decide whether an alternative dispute resolution method (like mediation) would be effective.

Once we build the foundation for your case, it’s time to start moving forward in earnest. This brings us to the next phase.

The Settlement-Focused Phase

Coming to a settlement outside of the courtroom is often less stressful and more cost-effective than pursuing a final decree from a judge.

If possible, our Minnesota child custody attorneys will try and encourage the other party to settle with you. This involves the following steps:

  • Analysis of issues – An honest and frank assessment of the issues, so we can better pursue your parental rights.
  • Custody and parenting time analysis and discussion – We’ll work with you to develop an equitable parenting plan (the document which governs the child custody order). We’ll help you draft a realistic, achievable parenting plan that you feel serves you and your child’s best interests.
  • Child support analysis and discussion – Often, child support and custody cases overlap. If child support is a factor, we’ll discuss how it should be handled here (you can check out our Child Support page to learn more).
  • Settlement efforts – We’ll try and settle your case using various methods such as mediation, negotiation, early neutral evaluation (ENE), or a settlement conference.

Of course, not every case can be settled. When an alternative resolution isn’t available, our child custody lawyers move on to the next phase.

The Litigation Phase

During litigation, our parental rights attorneys take all the necessary steps to protect your rights and advocate for you in court, including:

  • Formal discovery – This step includes the open sharing of documents and information between parties.
  • Depositions – We’ll interview possible witnesses under oath to help strengthen your case.
  • Bring in the experts – We’ll hire experts like child developmental psychologists to evaluate the case and testify on your behalf.
  • Motions for temporary and other relief – While the case is pending, we’ll take the necessary steps to reduce stress and give you some breathing room.
  • Pretrial – In a pretrial meeting, all parties meet with the judge to discuss unresolved issues and try to reach a resolution. If a resolution is impossible, we’ll start preparing for a trial.
  • Trial – When all else fails, we’ll be there at your side as fierce allies and advocates in the courtroom, pursuing your best interests and ensuring you feel supported throughout the process.

Once the trial is over, it’s time to move on to the final phase.

The Conclusion Phase

During the conclusion phase, our Minnesota child custody lawyers take the following steps to wrap up your case:

  • Conclusion—final decree – We’ll receive the final child custody order from the court, which sets out a legally binding agreement both parties must comply with.
  • Post decree – For a brief time after a decree is issued, either party can file an appeal or ask the judge to modify the decree. If you wish to take those steps, we can help.

Should your condition or circumstances change post-decree, we can also help you file for an order modification to make sure your child custody order accurately reflects your current needs and status. To learn more about that, visit our modifications of orders page.

Consult a Child Custody Attorney in Minnesota

At Johnson/Turner Legal, we understand the leap of faith parents take when they put us in charge of their child custody case. We don’t take the responsibility lightly, and we’ll do everything in our power to help you reach a positive resolution in your case.

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Schedule a consultation from a Minnesota child custody lawyer. Contact us online or via phone at (320) 299-4249. We have offices all over Minnesota, including Forest Lake, Blaine, Duluth, Lake Elmo, Wayzata, and Woodbury.


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