As an experienced Woodbury child custody lawyer handling divorces, appellate work involving family law and jurisdictional issues as well as custody matters and parenting time disputes for over 36 years throughout St. Paul and the surrounding metro area, Jeff Arrigoni understands that one of the most difficult, unique, time-consuming and emotionally charged issues in a divorce case is dealing with the custody of minor children. In divorce cases where there is a dispute about custody, it is critical to immediately obtain legal counsel to properly address the custody issue. The decisions that a party makes at the beginning of a divorce case – and even immediately prior to the filing of divorce proceedings – can play a major role, or have a significant impact in addressing and resolving custody issues.
Legal Custody versus Physical Custody in Minnesota
In Minnesota there are two components of custody. There is the issue of “legal custody,” which means the right to make decisions relative to a child’s education, religious training, health care, extracurricular activities, and other important decisions concerning a child’s upbringing. If parents have “joint legal custody,” both parents have equal rights and responsibility over these matters and are required to consult with one another in making decisions involving such matters. The decision whether to agree and stipulate to joint legal custody or to seek sole legal custody is an important decision that has to be made at the commencement of the process and should only be made after consulting with an experienced child custody attorney and obtaining an understanding of Minnesota law on this issue. The other component of custody is “physical custody,” which means the routine daily care and residence of the child; in other words, where the child’s primary residence will be. In evaluating and determining the physical custody for the children, the Court has to determine the best interests of the children by evaluating twelve different factors, that were modified effective August 1, 2015. The court determines what is in the best interests of the child and focuses on the needs of the child and the child’s relationship with both parents. The new factors include the following:
1) How the proposed custody arrangement affects the physical, emotional, cultural and spiritual needs of a child.
2) Any special medical, mental health, or educational needs that the child may have that may require special parenting arrangements.
3) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court determines the child has sufficient ability, age, and maturity to express an independent, reliable preference.
4) Whether domestic abuse has occurred, the nature and context and the implications of the abuse for parenting and for the child’s safety, well-being, and developmental needs.
5) Any physical, mental , or chemical health issue of a parent that affects the child’s safety or developmental needs.
6) The history of each parent’s participation in providing care for the child.
7) The willingness and ability of each parent to provide ongoing care for the child; to meet the child’s ongoing developmental, emotional, spiritual, and cultural needs; and to maintain consistency and follow through with the parenting time.
8) The effect on the child’s well-being and development of changes to home, school, and community.
9) The effect of the proposed arrangements on the ongoing relationships between the child and each parent, siblings, and other significant persons in the child’s life.
10) The benefit to the child in maximizing time with both parents and the detriment to the child in limiting time with either parent.
11) The disposition of each parent to support the child’s relationship with each parent and to encourage and permit frequent contact with the other parent(except in cases in which domestic abuse occurred).
12) The willingness and ability of parents to cooperate in rearing their child; to maximize sharing information and minimize exposure to parental conflict, and to utilize methods to resolve disputes involving major decision’s in a child’s life.
Family Law Attorney explains the Impact of Domestic Abuse on Child Custody
Under current Minnesota law there is a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody is in the best interests of the children in most cases. However, in cases where domestic abuse as defined under Minnesota law has occurred between the parties, the Court instead employs a rebuttable presumption that joint legal custody or physical custody is not in the children’s best interest. The issue of whether domestic abuse has occurred is therefore an important factor in addressing and resolving both legal and physical custody and may impact the Judge’s decision on whether to grant or allow a Stipulated Agreement involving these matters.
If there has been a history of domestic abuse or other abuse between the parties or involving the children, it is essential that experienced legal counsel be retained to advise you of your legal rights. Jeff Arrigoni is an experienced child custody and child support lawyer practicing in St. Paul, Woodbury,Stillwater,Oakdale,Maplewood and surrounding areas who can advise and represent you in your custody matter.
Family Law Lawyer Discusses The Role of Witnesses and Professionals in a Child Custody Matter
In evaluating and determining the best interests of the children, a Court will consider testimony of witnesses at a custody trial, as well as testimony of each parent and other potential experts. It is extremely difficult and not recommended that you attempt to handle a custody dispute without obtaining legal representation. In a divorce or custody dispute, there are normally other professionals who are involved in the process such as a Custody Evaluator, a psychiatrist or psychologist, a Guardian, and often times a Parenting Time Expediter or a Parenting Consultant. It is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney before meeting and dealing with these other professionals to ensure you understand the process, the important facts and information that need to be communicated, and decisions involving your own life and the children’s lives that are consistent with what a Court would view as being in the best interests of the children. Often times there will be independent professionals who are either retained, assigned or Court-ordered to conduct chemical dependency evaluations, psychological evaluations, or other types of evaluations that can have a significant impact on the issues of custody or Parenting Time. The decision whether to agree to such evaluations and the process of selecting an appropriate evaluator or professional can play a role in how the case is resolved. There are numerous professionals who are deemed to be reputable, and an experienced divorce lawyer can assist you in selecting these important professionals who will play an important role in your case.
Custody is an extremely complex area, and it is strongly recommended that parties not represent themselves in addressing and resolving custody disputes. Your decision-making on all custody matters and methods of communication are issues that should be discussed and evaluated with an experienced family law lawyer. Even if a custody dispute can be resolved between the parties, it is important to receive a divorce attorney’s input in the decisions that are made in reaching a settlement, as the settlement can have a significant binding effect on the resolution of future matters involving the children. To speak with an experienced child custody attorney who can help you with your divorce or child custody matter throughout Washington County, Ramsey County,Dakota County, Hennepin County, Anoka County, Scott County,St. Paul, Woodbury, Oakdale, Stillwater and all surrounding areas, call the Law Office of Jeffrey R. Arrigoni at (651) 738-1400. Your initial consultation is free.
Talk to a Knowledgeable, Sensitive Child Custody Attorney in Woodbury
Custody is an extremely complex area of family law, requiring the knowledge and expertise of a seasoned family law attorney. Among Woodbury child custody lawyers, Jeffrey R. Arrigoni possesses the experience, skill, and sensitivity to handle even the most complicated custody matters. It is important to keep current on substantial changes to the custody laws. Do not try and handle custody disputes without an experienced family law attorney. For a free initial consultation, please contact the office at (651) 738-1400. If there is a history of domestic abuse in your case, it is essential to retain legal counsel to advise you of your legal rights.