Can Minnesota Parents Make Changes to Child Custody Orders?

During divorce or child custody proceedings, a judge creates a custody order that must be followed by the parents unless a judge changes it later. These orders can be the result of a parenting plan, approved by a judge after cooperation and negotiation by parents, or the sole decision of the judge when parents are unwilling or unable to work together. But what happens if the parents later decide that a mistake was made or life changes have brought about the need to change a custody order?

Minnesota judges are allowed to change custody orders, but, barring special circumstances such as danger to the child, this cannot be done for at least a year after the original ruling or for two years after a modification.

A judge can only transfer primary physical custody from one parent to the other when doing so is in the best interests of the child. This means the court must find that there is a need to make this change when circumstances such as these are present:

  • The child has become integrated into the family of the parent seeking custody.
  • The child is in danger.
  • The custodial parent has moved out of state without the court’s permission.

Alternatively, when both parents agree to the modification, and it is also in the best interests of the child, a court may change primary custody. Similar rules apply when awarding primary physical custody in cases where shared custody currently exists. A court may also take into account the preferences of the child, especially for older children. Each case is different, so you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney when facing child custody issues.

For help modifying a custody order or contesting a modification, contact a dedicated Minnesota family law attorney at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. today.

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