Attorney Todd Dwire speaking with staff member in conference room

We See The Big Picture In Family Law

The Child Custody Guidance You Need

Child custody is one of the most hotly contested areas of divorce. It is also one of the most misunderstood. At Dwire Law Offices in Lakeville, Minnesota, our view is that the child custody label has become an issue of power, control and ego. Divorce attorney Todd Dwire will help you navigate these concepts and focus on the parenting time schedule and parenting plan as the most important child custody issue.

We have decades of experience assisting clients in Apple Valley, Burnsville, Eagan, Lakeville, Prior Lake, Savage and Shakopee. You can trust us to put the best interests of your child first when helping you through the child custody process.

Understanding Legal And Physical Custody

There are two types of child custody in Minnesota: legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody refers to the right to make decisions about your child’s health care, education and religious upbringing. Physical custody refers to where your child primarily resides and the manner in which parental responsibilities are shared.

Legal custody is rarely an issue in divorce. It is presumably shared unless there are serious issues that would affect the safety of your child, such as domestic abuse. Physical custody is the issue that people usually contest. Child custody can be labeled in one of two ways:

  • Sole physical custody is when one party has the primary responsibility for the day-to-day care of the child.
  • Joint physical custody is when the parties share the day-to-day child care responsibilities.

Formerly referred to as visitation, a parent’s parenting time is the amount of time that each parent spends with the child, usually set forth in the couple’s parenting plan. In the state of Minnesota, the amount of court-ordered parenting time will affect child support obligations

Contested Child Custody Cases

When a child custody case is contested, there will sometimes be a custody evaluation. An evaluator (or, in some cases, a guardian ad litem) will interview both parents, the children and witnesses named by each party. Eventually, the evaluator will write a report containing his or her recommendations for custody and visitation based on the best interests of the child. Absent evidence of an evaluator not doing his or her job, these recommendations generally carry significant weight with the court and precipitate a resolution.

Our experience means we are prepared to handle the most challenging custody cases, including those involving the enforcement of parenting time and allegations of parental alienation. In addition to helping parents, we can consult with grandparents about their rights.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

If you have questions or concerns about the child custody process, you can trust our Rice, Dakota and Scott County legal team to help you. To schedule a free consultation at our Lakeville office, call us at 866-442-9693 or fill out our online contact form.