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Do Mothers Always Get Custody of the Kids?

Pop culture and media have contributed to the assumption that mothers have an advantage when it comes to custody. Legally speaking, that is not true: both parents have an equal right to request custody and visitation. The determining factor is whether custody and visitation is “in the best interests of the child.”

Why do people assume mothers always get custody?

Throughout most of history, mothers have been the primary caretakers, while fathers worked outside the home. Many fathers believed they would not be granted custody, and therefore did not try to contest the request or ruling. Obviously, that is not the case today: fathers are more likely to be primary caretakers today than they were in the past.

The best interest of the child

In Minnesota, the custody standard is what’s in the best interest of the child. In fact, the state statute goes so far as to say, “In determining custody, the court shall consider the best interests of each child and shall not prefer one parent over the other solely on the basis of the sex of the parent.” [Emphasis added.]

Best interest is determined by a number of factors, including:

  • Physical, emotional, cultural, spiritual and other needs, and how the arrangements will affect that
  • Special medical, mental health or educational needs
  • Reasonable preference of the child
  • Domestic abuse considerations
  • Physical, mental or chemical health issues of the parent that affect the child
  • History and nature of each parents’ childcare participation
  • Willingness and ability to provide care for their child
  • Effect on the child’s well-being and development
  • Effect on the relationships between the child and their parents, siblings and other significant people
  • Benefit to the child in maximizing or limiting parental time
  • The willingness of each parent to encourage or permit frequent contact between the child and their other parent
  • Willingness of each parent to co-parent with each other

For more information about child custody arrangements in Minnesota, contact the experienced family law attorneys at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. today.

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