Can a Child Choose Which Parent Gets Custody in Minnesota?

Are you a parent involved in a custody or visitation case in Minnesota? If so, you may have questions about your legal rights. One of the most common questions that parents have for their family law attorney is: Does a child get to pick which parent they live with after a divorce? In Minnesota, the answer is technically “no”—but an older, more mature child may be allowed to express a preference. In this article, our Mankato custody and visitation lawyers highlight the key things that parents should know about how a child’s preference could affect their custody rights.

THE STANDARD: BEST INTERESTS OF THE CHILD

Under Minnesota law (Sec. 518.17 MN Statutes), child custody and parenting time cases are handled under the state’s best interests of the child standard. In awarding custody and visitation rights, a Minnesota court will do so in accordance with what is best for the child’s health, well-being, and social development. State law allows family courts to consider many different factors. When appropriate, a child’s own preference is one of those factors. Though, there are many other things that the court will consider as well.

OLDER, MATURE CHILDREN MAY BE ALLOWED TO EXPRESS A PREFERENCE

To be clear, Minnesota courts are never required to solicit input from a child. Indeed, courts typically avoid getting input from younger children. However, an older and more mature child may be allowed to express a preference. Though, even a relatively mature teenager does not get to make the final decision. If they are allowed to express a preference, a judge will consider it along with many other factors.

As a general rule, children over the age of 12 are far more likely to be given an opportunity to weigh in on a custody/visitation arrangement. That being said, child custody issues are always evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

MINNESOTA COURTS WANT TO KEEP KIDS OUT OF CUSTODY/VISITATION CASES

Family law judges prefer to keep children out of custody and parenting time cases. Going through this type of conflict can be stressful—especially for young children. The overriding principle is clear: Minnesota wants to spare children from the pressure and stress of a custody dispute. Courts prefer parents to work collaboratively to find a solution that works effectively for their family. Our law firm helps parents resolve custody cases in a low-conflict manner. Though, we are always prepared to take strong action to protect your parental rights.

SCHEDULE A CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION WITH A MANKATO CUSTODY LAWYER

At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Minnesota custody attorneys are compassionate, effective advocates for parents. If you have any questions about child preference and custody/visitation rights, we can help. Contact our law firm at 507-200-8959 for a completely confidential case evaluation. From our main legal office in Mankato and our secondary office in Rochester, we handle custody and visitation cases throughout all of Southern Minnesota.

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