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When can a child-custody case be initiated in Minnesota?

Divorce is a complex affair that involves many related family issues, including child and spousal support, property division and others. One of the most important is child custody, and like elsewhere in the country, courts in Minnesota are charged with considering children's best interests. As elsewhere, Minnesota allows two types of child custody: physical and legal.

The differences between legal and physical custody have been discussed in a previous blog post, but there are other elements of child custody that are equally important to be knowledgeable of and consider. Two of these elements include when a parent can seek child custody and what circumstances may lead to that situation.

When can a parent seek child custody? For children to be eligible for child-custody decisions, they must have been state residents and living with parents or guardians for at least 6 months before custody proceedings can begin, with certain exceptions for emergencies. One common one is when one parent lives in Minnesota and the other lives in a different state.

Other than separation and divorce, when is child custody a concern? In some cases, it must be determined relatively quickly, such as when there are allegations of child or domestic abuse, where paternity is in dispute, when children live with caretakers such as grandparents and where juvenile delinquency is a concern.

Child-custody issues are complex, and they can challenge the notion of what best meets a child's interests. Therefore, to ensure that divorce or separation has limited effect on a child, consulting a family law attorney can help determine the best possible arrangements.

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Basics on Child Custody & Parenting Time," Accessed on March 7, 2015

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