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Answering the Most Common Questions About Child Custody

When it comes to child custody issues in Minnesota, our clients tend to have a lot of questions — and for good reason. The health and well-being of their kids can be at stake. Below are answers to some of the most common questions we hear:

Are women at an advantage when it comes to child custody?

No. While this may have been true decades ago, courts today look at a variety of factors when determining the right child custody arrangement for each situation. At the top of the list is what is in the children’s best interests. If this means the kids should live with their father, a judge will not hesitate to provide the dad with sole custody.

What are the factors courts consider when determining custody?

Because each case is different from the next, judges have a lot of discretion when it comes to determining what is in the children’s best interests. The following are some common factors that go into these decisions:

  • Age of the children
  • Relationship the children have with each parent
  • Where the kids go to school, attend religious services and take part in other activities
  • Mental, emotional, physical and financial health of each parent
  • Any history of domestic abuse or criminality on the part of either parent
  • Potentially harmful romantic relationships of either parent
  • Children’s preferences (when deemed to be an appropriate age)

Could a judge order a psychological evaluation as part of this process?

It is possible for a judge to request that one or both parents undergo a psychological evaluation as part of the custody determination process. Courts may also require the parents to submit to drug or alcohol screens if they have a documented history of substance abuse or are suspected of substance abuse.

Does a judge or jury decide child custody matters?

It is always a judge who listens to the arguments of both parents and makes a determination regarding physical and legal custody. Juries are never involved in this process.

If you have further questions about child custody and the laws and rules that may apply to your situation, meet with a skilled Minnesota family law and divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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  • "Divorce is a time of emotion and stress. Mary Pfeifer , My lawyer was professional and compassionate. She was very informative through the process. Her insight helped me in my decisions. She worked hard to obtain a settlement which was fair to both parties. Though, I hope I won't need her help again. It is reassuring to know a good person that is willing to help." - Rod S.

  • "I first came to Ms. Jacquelyn Lutz of Appelhof, Pfeifer and Hart in October of 2016. It was definitely the worst time in my life and she compassionately spoke with me about my options. Ms. Lutz thoroughly explained the laws, statutes, process and what to expect going forward. What was supposed to be one case, turned into three intricate cases that took a huge toll on me and my family. Ms. Lutz represented me in court on all three cases with a vast knowledge of the laws and how to proceed accordingly. During all three cases she kept me informed, calm, gave me resources to utilize, and (most important) gave me a realistic view of what may come next. Ms. Lutz knew each case required a great deal of knowledge and creative thinking on how to legally proceed forward with each case. My family and friends are forever grateful for the amazing representation by Ms. Lutz. I highly recommend Ms. Lutz for anyone needing or considering superb representation for any kind of family law. " - M.H.

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