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Minnesota Child Custody Laws

State laws regulate the child custody process and how decisions are made by the court, with some variations from one state to the next. However, all jurisdictions have adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act (UCCA), which helps eliminate interstate child custody conflicts. State laws address whether joint custody is an option, whether grandparents have visitation rights, whether the child has a say in the court's custody decision, and other aspects of child custody.

Child custody typically comes into play when the child's parents file for divorce, but also may be a factor in court actions for paternity or domestic abuse; when a child is cared for by a third party; or if a child is in need of protective services. Here is an overview of Minnesota child custody laws. 

Minnesota Child Custody Laws at a Glance

For the most part, custody actions in Minnesota require the child to have lived with the custodial parent or guardian for at least six months. Exceptions are made for emergency ("ex parte") situations; for example, a child may be immediately placed into the care of the other parent if the custodial parent is abusive or absent.

The state of Minnesota recognizes two basic types of child custody:

  1. Legal Custody - Parent(s) has the legal authority to make long-term decisions about the child's upbringing and well-being.
  2. Physical Custody - Child lives with the parent(s), who provides food, shelter, and other necessities.

One or both parents may be awarded legal custody and/or physical custody (in other words, "joint custody" is an option in Minnesota).

Additional information about Minnesota's child custody laws and procedures is listed in the following chart. See FindLaw's extensive Child Custody section for more articles.

Code Section 518.155 et seq.
Year Uniform Child Custody Act Adopted 1977
Joint Custody an Option? Yes, §518.17 subd. 2
Grandparent Visitation Rights Recognized? Yes, 518.175, §257.02, subd. 7
Child's Own Wishes Considered? Yes. The court may interview the child in chambers to determine his/her preference of custodial parent if the court decides the child is mature enough to do so.
Investigations in Custody Proceedings In a contested custody proceeding, or upon the request of a parent or child's custodian, the court may order an investigation of the child's custodial arrangements.

Note: State laws are constantly changing, typically through legislation, case law, or ballot initiative. We make every effort to keep these pages up-to-date, but you may also want to contact a Minnesota child custody attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Minnesota Child Custody Laws: Related Resources

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Battling over custody of your child with your ex can be emotionally draining and legally challenging. You should understand Minnesota family laws surrounding child custody issues before going to court or mediation. Start down this road by getting a free case review from a local Minnesota family law attorney today.

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