In Minnesota, there are two types of child custody:

  • Legal custody is the right to make and participate in major legal decisions as to a child’s education, medical care, and religious training. In Minnesota, joint legal custody is presumed unless there is a compelling reason not to.
  • Physical custody is where the child lives on a daily basis. There are three basic arrangements: 1) sole physical custody, 2) primary physical custody and visitation (known as parenting time in Minnesota), and 3) joint physical custody.

Joint physical custody, where a child’s routine daily care is structured between the mother and father, is becoming more popular in Minnesota. It relies on an ability of the parents to communicate well, cooperate and resolve disputes. The upside of this arrangement is that the child will have two active and involved parents. The downside is, the child may have less consistency and stability.

Custody Decisions are Based on the Best Interest of the Child

Minnesota law asks the court to make decisions of child custody and visitation based on the best interests of the minor children. Your child’s best interests can be determined by the parents through mediation or negotiation. If the parents are unable to agree, the court will require a custody evaluation. This will include interviewing parents, children, teachers, friends and neighbors.

To determine the child’s best interests, the court will consider 13 factors including which parent has been the primary caretaker, the stability of the proposed custodial home, the length of time the child has been in a stable environment, and any mental health issues involving the parents and/or the children.


Adoption is rarely an issue in divorce, but it is an important family law issue. When a family is adopting a child or when a stepparent is adopting a child, the Meinerts Law Office can perform the legal work necessary.

Learn More About Child Custody

  • Relocation of Parents – When petitioning the court for permission to relocate for reasons such as a new job or relationship, the custodial parent must prove that the move is in the best interest of the child.
  • Grandparents’ Rights – When parents divorce and create a custody agreement, other members of the family are usually left out. However, the state of Minnesota statutorily provides alternatives for grandparents or other interested third parties.

What’s the difference between legal and physical custody?