A review of child custody terms in Minnesota

| Oct 7, 2020 | Custody & Visitation

Child custody cases and parenting time issues in Minnesota range from relatively simple cases to matters of great complexity. Legal terms often have very specific meanings that might differ slightly from regular usage.

In the arena of child custody, it is good for anyone involved in a court case to understand the terms.

Child custody terms

The Minnesota Judicial Branch states that under Minnesota law two types of child custody exist. The first is legal custody, which refers to the right to make decisions about the child’s education, health care, religious upbringing and other matters. The second is physical custody, which pertains to the right to engage in decisions about where the child resides and his or her day-to-day activities.

Parents can either hold sole legal or physical custody, or they can share (commonly known as joint custody) legal or physical custody of a child. In cases of joint legal or physical custody, the parents of the child must work out an agreement to share the responsibilities of caring for or making decisions for the child. It is important to note that it is possible for one parent to hold joint legal custody and sole physical custody of a child, or vice versa, and that different arrangements could exist for different children of the same parents.

Parenting time terms

The Minnesota Courts defines parenting time, also known as visitation, as the time the non-custodial parent spends with the child. Many situations result in disputes regarding parenting time in which the courts must adjudicate. These include the common situations of divorce or legal separation and cases of domestic abuse and paternity. It could also involve third-party custody issues as when a grandparent or legal guardian has custody. A “Stipulation and Order” refers to an agreement reached between parents about custody and parenting time.