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What is the 'best interests of the child' standard?

When it comes to making decisions regarding child custody and visitation, courts in Minnesota use the "best interests of the child" standard. There are a number of factors the court will consider when determining what is in the child's best interests.

First of all, the court may consider the child's physical and mental health needs, along with the child's religious and cultural needs. In addition, if the child has special needs that necessitate certain care arrangements, this may also be considered. In addition, if the child is of a sufficient age to express a reasonable opinion as to what child custody and visitation he or she would like, this may be considered.

Another factor the court may take into account is whether there have been acts of domestic violence and the implications this will have on the child's well-being. Also, if a parent has a physical or mental health issue that has an effect on the child's development or safety, this may also be considered.

The court may also take into account each parent's history of caring for the child as well as each parent's ability to care for the child in the future, along with each parent's willingness to abide by the final parenting plan. If the child will have to move to a new community and school post-divorce, the effect this will have on the child may be considered. The effect the proposed parenting plan will have on the child's relationship with each parent as well as other family members may be considered.

Also, how maximizing parenting time or conversely limiting it will affect the child may also be considered. In addition, with the exception of cases of domestic violence, each parent's ability to encourage the child's ongoing relationship with the other parent, including allowing the child to contact the other parent may be considered. Finally, each parent's ability to work with the other parent to raise the child may be considered.

In the end, it is important that whatever custody arrangements are made provide the child with the love and stability he or she needs to grow and thrive. In most cases, the child deserves to have a meaningful relationship with each parent. Therefore, parents need to abide by the court's order with regards to child custody and visitation, for the sake of the child.

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