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Do Minnesota Courts Consider Children’s Preferences in Custody Arrangements?

There are a variety of factors that go into Minnesota courts’ child custody determinations, if the parents are unable to agree on a custody arrangement themselves. Some of the factors include which parent has been the primary caretaker, the children’s relationships with each parent, each parent’s demonstrated capability of having custody, the child’s daily routines with school and extracurricular activities, and any history of domestic abuse.

But what about the child’s own preference? Will courts in Minnesota take how the child feels into consideration?

What you should know

Courts may take a child’s preference into consideration if the judge believes the child is mature enough to have a reasonable, independent preference. There isn’t a set age at which the court will allow the child’s preference to be a factor, but in general, teenagers are much more likely to have their voices heard than younger children.

Courts will pay a lot of attention to the reasons behind the child’s preference. They also will want to make sure the child’s preference is legitimate, and not one encouraged or influenced by one of their parents. The court will immediately discount the child’s opinion if there is legitimate reason to believe it came about as a result of pressure from a parent.

Of course, just because a court can take an older child’s opinion into consideration doesn’t mean it will. Ultimately they are still a child, and the court’s job is to establish arrangements that are in the child’s best interest.

For more information about establishing custody arrangements, contact an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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