What Is Legal Custody?

In Minnesota, the presumption is that parents will share joint legal custody, even when one parent has sole physical custody. The law assumes it is beneficial for children to have both parents involved in the major decisions in their lives. There are, however, situations where the court will award sole legal custody to one parent. Generally, that is limited to situations where one parent unable to help make major decisions due to chemical dependency, mental illness or domestic abuse issues. Courts also can award sole legal custody to one parent when the parents have an extreme inability to communicate and cooperate in the decision-making process.

Major decisions are defined as education, religious and medical decisions, including:

  • Where the child will attend school
  • With which religion the child will be raised
  • Any medical issues affecting the child

If parents with joint legal custody are unable to reach an agreement on a legal custody issue, they would need to attempt mediation and/or ask a judge to decide the issue for them.

Every divorce and custody case is different. For more information on whether you should seek sole legal custody of your child, contact an experienced Minneapolis family law attorney with Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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