Not every relationship between a couple in Minnesota is meant to last, even if the couple has a child. If a child is born to unmarried parents who are no longer together as a couple, it is often the case that the child's mother is granted sole physical custody. However, if the child's father takes some sort of action to preserve his custody and visitation rights, he can still be a part of his child's life. Many times child custody decisions in such cases hinges on who was the child's primary caretaker and what is in the best interests of the child.
One thing that unmarried parents caught in a custody dispute have on their side is that, unlike divorcing parents, they are not facing other divorce legal issues such as alimony or property division. When the issue before the court is primarily that of child custody, it may simplify the proceedings so that a fair decision can be made in an efficient manner.
There are a variety of ways in which unmarried parents can reach a decision on child custody. They can engage in informal settlement negotiations, reaching an agreement on their own but perhaps with the assistance of their respective attorneys. Othertimes they may seek an out-of-court method such as mediation wherein a neutral party helps them reach a consensus on child custody. Finally, they can always turn to the court to have a judge make a decision on child custody.
However a child custody arrangement between unmarried parents is made, what is important is that the child's best interests are met. Oftentimes this means giving the child the opportunity to have a meaningful relationship with both of his or her parents. In the end, however, before any child custody decisions are made, each parent may want to consult with his or her own attorney in order to better understand what their rights and options are.
Source: FindLaw, "How Child Custody Decisions Are Made," accessed Jan. 23, 2017