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

More than 60 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 Lakeville family law firm with more than 60 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.

Contact the Firm


Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.


20856 Holyoke Avenue,
P.O. Box 369,
Lakeville, Minnesota 55044