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How do a child’s best interests factor in with child custody?

Minnesota parents who are getting a divorce will want to spend as much time as possible with their children. That means child custody and visitation rights will be a major factor in the case. The parents’ desires are important and it is generally preferable if they can negotiate and come to an agreement without court intervention. If that is not possible, the court will analyze the case and decide. Fundamentally, the court’s determination will hinge on the best interests of the child. Understanding how the law assesses those best interests is essential.

For a child’s development, the needs must be met. That will include emotional, physical and spiritual considerations. It also involves the basics for living like medical coverage, education, a safe place to live and a nurturing environment. In some cases, the child might want a say in how child custody and visitation is arranged. In certain circumstances, the court may take the child’s preferences into account. The child must be mature enough, be at a sufficient age and exhibit the capability to express those preferences.

The home must be a stable and safe area for the child. The court will consider how to address domestic violence issues and what steps are needed to ensure the child will be protected. Any issues the parent has – physical, mental or chemical – will be weighed by the court. Relationships with people important in the child’s life must be maintained. The parents will be expected to serve the child’s needs and maintain an aboveboard and communicative relationship with the other parent for matters related to the child. The parents must be aware of how it can impact a child’s future to have both parents in his or her life with a maximization of parenting time.

Any family law issue can be complex. This is true for property division and support as well as child-related issues. Still, children are perhaps the most complicated factors in a case and require a deft and nuanced hand to ensure they are cared for properly. Even if the parents are amicable, it is still wise to have legal advice. This is imperative if the sides are contentious and battling over child custody and visitation. Regardless of the situation, the child’s best interests are paramount. Having legal assistance from the beginning can be beneficial to everyone involved.