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Child Custody

Washington County, MN Child Custody Attorneys Protect Your Child’s Interests

More than 50 years ’ combined experience in helping Minnesotans with family crises

Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. focuses on delivering solid legal representation when you face family-related problems. If you anticipate that your spouse will wage a battle over child custody during or after your divorce, let us review your situation and explain your options. We work hard to achieve the right outcome for you and your children.

The basics of child custody in Minnesota

When parents become separated or divorced in Minnesota, the court determines who gets physical and legal custody of the child, unless the parents reach an agreement on their own, in which case the court still must approve the terms of the agreement. Under Minnesota law, the court is guided by one principle: What is in the best interest of the child. Factors the court weighs in determining the best interest of the child including the following:

  • The child’s adjustment to home, school, and community
  • The mental and physical health of the parties
  • The child’s cultural background
  • The child’s relationship with his or her parents, siblings and extended family
  • Any history of abuse
  • The child’s primary caretaker
  • The length of time the child has lived in a stable environment

Courts have discretion about how much weight to give each factor and to determine the credibility of the evidence presented in court.

What are the child custody options in Minnesota?

Under Minnesota law, there are two types of child custody: legal and physical. Legal custody involves the right to make major decisions on behalf of the child, including decisions about education, healthcare and religious training. A parent with physical custody, on the other hand, provides the primary home for the child and makes the day-to-day decisions on the child’s behalf.

Legal and physical custody can be shared. The presumption in Minnesota is that legal custody is shared by both parents.

Do grandparents have custody rights in Minnesota?

Minnesota adopted a de facto custodian law in 2002, which helps advance grandparents’ rights. This law states that a grandparent, or other third party, can seek custody of a child by proving that the grandparent has been the child’s de facto custodian. The grandparent must prove that he or she has been the child’s primary caretaker and that it is in the child’s best interest to award the grandparent custody.

Protecting Minnesota fathers’ child custody rights

Under Minnesota law, if a child’s parents were not married at the time the child was born, the putative father is not automatically considered the legal father. To be recognized as the legal father of a child, the unmarried father must establish paternity either through the court or by both parents signing a Recognition of Parentage. Until paternity is established, the putative father has no legal rights or responsibilities in relation to the child.

Call Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A. for a free consultation

Contact an Oakdale family law firm with more than 50 years years of combined experience. We are dedicated to our clients. For your free initial consultation, call 651-379-3024 or contact us online. Free parking is available at our office.

Our Attorneys
Client testimonials
  • "Tori had a thorough understanding of my situation and made excellent recommendations to resolve my concerns. She was persistent on communication and handled everything in a very timely manner. I would definitely hire her again in the future if needed." - M.K.

  • "With Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A., it is like having a family physician. They are all knowledgeable, thorough, comforting, and the only call I need to make for all my legal needs for many years to come. No matter what the matter, I totally trust their advice and commitment to me and my family." - J.N.

  • "Mary from APH Law helped me thru a difficult divorce. She and the entire staff was there for me every step of the way helping me on what to do next. They listened to what I wanted and helped me achieve what matter the most to me in the divorce settlement." - Dana C.

  • "I chose APH after my initial consultation with Mary. I felt my best interest would be represented. The entire process went excellent, the attorneys and staff communicated effectively and efficiently with me throughout the process as they needed to. Being new to the legal process and verbiage, they walked me and talked me through the next steps and the jargon, I felt completely comfortable and represented. I hope I never have to use legal services again but if I do I will call Mary at APH Law and know that I will be taken care of." - Jeff M.

  • "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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