Sep
21

New and Improved - the Best Interest Standard for Child Custody in MN

Minnesota’s New “Best Interest Factors” for Child Custody

This summer Minnesota enacted significant changes to Minnesota Statute Section 518.17, which defines the best interests test for child custody matters.   Previously, when tasked with decisions regarding child custody and parenting time, Minnesota courts engaged in a two-step process. The first step involved weighing 13 “best interest” factors.. These 13 factors included everything from the wishes of the child to the ability of a parent to raise the child in an environment that provided appropriate cultural and religious...

Nov
8

Custody Determinations and Orders for Protection - Minnesota Statute 518.17

An Order for Protection (OFP) is a civil order prohibiting a family or household member from contacting the petitioning party when domestic abuse has occurred, or there is an imminent threat that domestic abuse will occur.  A judge can grant an Order for Protection for up to two years, and there is no cost to file.  A parent can apply for an Order for Protection for herself or himself.  A person may also apply on behalf of his or her minor child if the child has been the victim of abuse or a threat of abuse exists.  The petition process itself includes a sworn written statement that...

Nov
29

Holiday Schedules: Why “Oh, We’ll Work it Out Later” Doesn’t Really Work

The holidays form childhood memories that last a lifetime.  Every parent finds each one as important as the next.  When parents are working out custody issues, it is common, however, for parents to focus only on the main issues such as custody, child support, and any property division.  After hammering out of all the details, at the end, there is a tendency for weary parents to push the holiday schedule to the side, or state in the proposed decree “the parties will alternate holidays” or will “share holidays  as agreed.”   The rush to move on ultimately is the same a...

May
18

Tax Benefit

There are multiple tax benefits associated with parenting including the minor child tax dependency exemption (dependency exemption), the child tax credit, head of household status, child and dependent care tax credit, the earned income tax credit, and benefits associated with Health Savings Accounts.

When the parents of a child are together and filing taxes jointly, the parties do not have to think about who is entitled to the tax benefits of claiming the minor child or children. However, when couples divorce, who claims the child or children for tax proposes can become a source of...

Oct
12

Recognition of Parentage: Simple Form with Serious Outcomes

When a child is born in Minnesota to an unmarried mother, the mother automatically has sole legal and sole physical custody of that child under Minn. Stat. § 257.541.  When this happens, many parents sign a Recognition of Parentage, or ROP, form so that the baby’s birth certificate will have both parents listed. This is a form that is frequently signed at the hospital and is then submitted to the Minnesota Office of Vital Statistics. The ROP can be signed at any time, however, no matter how old the child is. Signing the ROP is easy to do, but doing so can cause significant...

Feb
21

Modification of Custody and Parenting Time

Sometimes clients come to Wilson Law Group months or years after finalizing a divorce or custody case and want to change the custody labels or parenting time schedule established previously. Some parents want to modify custody labels due to a new reality: a new job that is farther away, or because the child has started living with the “non-custodial” parent full-time. Other parents want to modify custody because they are concerned with the other parent’s parenting skills, or fear for the safety of the child. Modification, however, can be a very difficult process in Minnesota as many...

Jun
18

Where's Mommy - Planning to Help Children When a Parent Is Unavailable

All parents panic at the thought of an emergency that separates a parent from a child and leaves the child temporarily with no immediate care provider.   No parent wants the state to take responsibility for their child, or consider foster care for a temporary situation when better options exists.   This parental concern is even stronger for parents who fear contact with Immigration & Customs Enforcement or another law enforcement agency.  There are legal tools that help a parent prepare for such a scenario.  

In many cases, the period of separation is less than twenty-four hours and...

Jun
18

Minnesota Child Support and Parenting Time: No Guarantees

A common question is: “Since I’m paying child support, I’m automatically entitled to parenting time with my kids, right?” The frustrating answer for many parents is: no; simply paying child support does not automatically grant a parent the right to parenting time with his or her children.

Under Minnesota law, when a child is born to an unmarried mother, the mother automatically has full legal and physical custody of the child. Minn. Stat. § 257.54. Even if the father signs a Recognition of Parentage and is on the birth certificate, this does not grant the father any rights to...

Jul
28

Change in Minnesota’s Custody Law Effective August 1, 2014

Did you know that the Minnesota Legislature has clarified that there is no presumption regarding custody except in cases of domestic abuse? This is an important change in the law that will go into effect on August 1, 2014.  Minn. Stat. Sec. 518.17, subd. 2 has been amended to state, “There is no presumption for or against joint physical custody, except when domestic abuse, as defined in section 518B.01, has occurred between the parents.” 

So what does a judge consider when a child’s parents cannot agree on custody? Some fathers may discouragingly assume that a judge will always...

Aug
15

Obtaining a Passport for a Minor Child

When planning an international vacation, travelling parents should ensure that their U.S. citizen children have passports and be aware of the special requirements for minors under the age of 16.  There may be hurdles if the child’s parents are not married; renewing a passport can be an issue since passports for children under 16 are only valid for 5 years and the parents’ relationship may have changed since the issuance of the first passport so mutual consent (or even communication) is nonexistent.  To make it even more cumbersome, parents of minors under 16 must apply in person for...

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