The Labels and the Reality
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.
Legal Custody 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 of the day-to-day care of the child.
- Joint physical custody is when the parties share the day-to-day child care responsibilities.
In the past, the child custody label had a bearing on issues such as child support and relocation. Today, that is no longer true.
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.
In addition to helping parents, we can consult with grandparents about their rights.