Because they involve children and their well-being, child custody or parenting time disputes are emotional, difficult, and stressful for parents. An experienced child custody lawyer or parenting time lawyer will help guide you through the emotional and difficult process of dealing with your children’s best interests, in Family Court.

Getting sound advice to understand how the Family Court deals with a parent’s child custody rights and parenting time rights can help you navigate the Family Courts and enable you to make decisions with your child’s best interests in mind. For example, be sure to read our Child Custody Cases – Be Careful What You Say article.


There are two types of child custody that Minnesota Family Courts can award to a parent: physical custody and legal custody.

Physical custody’ means which parent is responsible for making the day-to-day decisions for the child’s care. In some cases, that responsibility is shared by both parents, and Minnesota child custody law calls this ‘joint physical custody’. While the law requires Minnesota Courts to award ‘physical custody’ in a divorce or a child custody matter, this label is nowhere near as impactful to a parent-child relationship, as the actual parenting time rights which the Court awards to each parent.

Parenting time’ is defined as the actual time that each parent spends with their child. Courts are required to award parents with parenting time that serves the best interests of the child; not necessarily what is fair and equal to the parent. In Minnesota, Family Courts are required to presume that spending at least twenty-five percent (25%) of their time with each parent, is in a child’s best interests. Family Courts can put restrictions and limits on the amount of time that a parent can spend with their child, depending on whether a parent’s behavior threatens the child’s physical or emotional health and development. When deciding whether to address parenting time rights in Family Court, parents should thoroughly consider their rights, and the best interests of their children, with an experienced Minnesota child custody lawyer.

In addition to physical custody and parenting time, Family Courts must also consider what legal custody rights a parent gets. ‘Legal custody’ means which parent makes decisions about a child’s education, health care, and religious upbringing. The parent with legal custody has primary responsibility for the child in these areas. In Minnesota, Family Courts are required to presume that it is in a child’s best interests that both parents have legal custody rights to their child. In other words, both parents are generally awarded the right to participate in decisions about their child’s health care, education, and religious upbringing. There are exceptions to this presumption, though, in cases where there is evidence of a history of domestic abuse between the parents, or, where a parent may lacks the capacity to participate in these kinds of decisions.


Child custody and parenting time disputes are often referred to mediation as a way of exploring possible solutions parents. A special type of divorce mediation, or child custody mediation, is called a ‘Social Early Neutral Evaluation’ (‘SENE’). This is a unique style of mediation which involves the evaluations and opinions of a neutral third party; who can offer their opinions during the mediation process, in a non-binding, confidential way, so that parents aren’t ‘stuck’ with the third party’s opinion, but, can feel some help in getting the opinion of a knowledgeable third party, and break an impasse. If the impasse remains unresolved, that third party’s opinion remains confidential and cannot be shared with the Family Court, or anyone else.

During the difficult times that come with a child custody or parenting time dispute, an experienced Minnesota child custody lawyer or parenting time lawyer can help you thoroughly consider how best to navigate the process of securing child custody and parenting time rights in Family Court.

Contact a Twin Cities Family Law Lawyer

Family legal matters are difficult, which is why it is important to have an experienced attorney guiding you and giving you appropriate advice. If you are facing a divorce, child custody, child support matters, parenting time concerns, paternity issues, domestic abuse, spousal maintenance matters, or your need to appeal a judge’s decision, Beyer & Simonson, LLC can help you. Call today at 952-303-6007.

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