Divorces, legal separations and other family law matters often involve conflicts over child custody and visitation. In Minnesota, courts handle child visitation issues in light of specific statutes that govern how such conflicts can be decided. Parents or guardians may be denied visitation rights or be required to have a third party supervise visits if the court deems necessary based on these statutes.
Best Interest of the Child
In Minnesota, all child custody and visitation issues are determined under the guidelines of the "bests interests" test. This test requires the court to make decisions about visitation based on the child's best interest, whether or not the decision matches the wishes the parents. According to the 2009 Minnesota Statutes, the court considers the child's wishes, the parent's wishes, the relationships between child and parent, the interaction between family members, the length of the time the child has lived in a home, the affect of any abuse by the parent on the child, the child's primary caretaker, and any other factors the court deems reasonable and just.
Minnesota differentiates child custody matters on a legal and physical basis. Legal custody is the right for a parent or guardian to make decisions about the child's health, up-bringing, education and other matters. The right to legal custody is given independently of physical custody, which is where the child actually lives. Minnesota courts allow for parenting time, meaning the court will determine how long each parent is entitled to spend with the child so as to maintain the child-parent relationship in the child's best interests. The court can award primary physical custody to one party or the other, split custody or make any determination about parenting time distinctions it finds are in the child's best interests.
Minnesota also recognizes the rights of grandparents to visit with their grandchildren. Courts can award grandparents visitation rights when the parent is deceased, any proceeding arising out of family court raises custody issues, if the child resides with the grandparents, or if the child resides with another person. Like all other custody issues, the court must find that best interest of the grandchildren are served whenever it makes a grandparent visitation ruling.