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When does my child have a say in custody and visitation rights?

On Behalf of | Jun 14, 2022 | Blog, Custody & Visitation

Divorce in Minnesota generally involves spouses discussing child custody and creating a parenting or visitation schedule. A judge may review your circumstances and authorize an arrangement that reflects your child’s development.

As noted on the Minnesota Statutes website, the court may consider a child’s personal preferences. While age alone does not determine an outcome, a judge may look to each child’s maturity level and ability for independence. If your child could express custody and visitation preferences, a judge may include them in your divorce decree.

What could my child communicate to a judge?

Children may discuss their well-being and personal needs with a family-court judge. They may explain how they feel when spending time with each parent. If a household experiences abuse or conflicts, your child may share that information to express safety concerns.

A child may discuss a parent’s physical or mental health issues. Substance abuse or other harmful behaviors may influence a child’s desire to reside with one parent instead of the other. Relationships with siblings or classmates may also compel a child to hope for a more desirable custody arrangement.

When may a judge award joint custody of a child?

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, a divorce may end in awarding legal sole custody or legal joint custody. If a judge orders sole custody to one spouse, the custodial parent has a right to make decisions about a child’s medical care, religion and education. With legal joint custody, however, both parents may discuss these issues on behalf of their child.

Children with the maturity to make independent decisions may promote their preferences for custody and visitation schedules. A judge may then consider their needs before awarding sole or joint custody.

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