When spouses share a child, they may wonder who gets custody if they divorce. Since each case is unique, it can be challenging to know how a court might assign custody of a child.
Understanding common misconceptions can help dispel myths while providing information regarding physical and legal custody determination in Minnesota.
It is a common misconception that a child’s mother automatically gets custody when a couple separates. Divorce laws in Minnesota are gender-neutral, so each parent has equal rights over shared children. Instead of gender, judges may use parental suitability and willingness to prioritize the child’s needs when determining custody.
Will of the child
While judges often consider a child’s preferences during a custody case, minor children do not get to choose a parent. Many other factors contribute to a custody determination, such as each parent’s physical and mental health and the stability of the physical environment.
Although many believe it is impossible to change a custody agreement, either parent can request a modification in certain situations. When either parent experiences a significant change in circumstance that could impact the child’s well-being, they can ask the judge to review the new information and determine whether to adjust the existing order.
Impact of child support
Some people believe that parents who fail to pay child support may risk losing shared custody of their child. Since child support and custody are separate legal issues, one is generally not conditional on the other.
A divorce can be stressful, especially when spouses share a child. Knowing how custody determination might work for different situations can help parents understand their rights regarding shared children.