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When parents get divorced in Minnesota, establishing a child custody arrangement is one of the most important parts of the process.

Most custody cases result in the child spending the majority of their time with one parent, who is granted physical custody.

As the primary custodial parent in Minnesota, it’s important to understand your legal rights and responsibilities. While the child resides with you most of the time, the other parent will likely have visitation rights and may share joint legal custody with you.

Below, we’ll discuss some of the key things to know about primary physical custody in Minnesota.

What is Primary Physical Custody?

Primary physical custody, also called sole physical custody, means one parent has the right to have the child living with them and determines the child’s daily routine and care.

With primary custody, the child resides with that parent most of the time, such as 5 out of 7 days per week, and spends less time with the other parent. The other parent will have scheduled visitation or parenting time.

Having primary physical custody doesn’t negate the other parent’s rights. Unless the court terminates their parental rights, they will likely have visitation rights and may share joint legal custody.

How is Primary Physical Custody Decided in Minnesota?

Minnesota custody laws require all child custody arrangements to be in the best interests of the child. When making custody determinations, courts evaluate:

  • Each parent’s ability to provide a safe, nurturing environment
  • The child’s needs and preferences
  • The parents’ wishes and history with the child
  • Any history of domestic abuse
  • The potential impact on the child’s relationships and schooling
  • And other relevant factors

Unless there are concerns like abuse or neglect, courts will aim to preserve meaningful relationships between the child and both parents. But in many cases, awarding primary custody to one parent is found to be best.

If parents can’t agree on custody, the court will order mediation first. If needed, a custody evaluation will be completed before the judge makes a final ruling after a trial.

What Legal Custody Rights Does the Primary Custodian Have?

In addition to determining physical custody, courts also decide legal custody. Legal custody refers to decision-making authority for the child.

Joint legal custody means both parents share responsibility for major decisions about the child’s health, education, and welfare. This is common when parents have an amicable relationship.

With sole legal custody, only one parent has legal rights to make these decisions. This may happen if parents have an abusive relationship that makes co-parenting impossible.

If you have primary physical custody, you may be granted joint legal custody or sole legal custody. Either way, having primary custody gives you a bit more control over decision-making compared to the other parent.

For instance, choosing a school or doctor will impact you more since you spend more time taking care of the child day-to-day. The other parent still has to be consulted if you share joint legal custody, but your wishes often carry greater weight.

What Are the Benefits of Having Primary Custody?

For the primary custodial parent, having primary physical custody means:

  • The child lives with you most of the time
  • You make day-to-day decisions regarding the child’s care
  • You may be able to claim tax benefits like the child tax credit
  • The other parent will likely owe you child support

Having your child live with you most of the time allows you to be their primary caregiver and be involved in their daily life. As their main caretaker, you’ll be the one meeting their basic needs each day.

As the parent with primary custody, you may also be able to claim certain tax benefits like the child tax credit and dependent exemption. However, this depends on whether you share joint custody and your custody agreement.

In most cases, the parent who doesn’t have primary custody will be ordered to pay child support to the custodial parent. The amount of support is determined by state guidelines based on each parent’s income and custody share.

Can Custodial Parents Relocate?

A parent who has primary physical custody in Minnesota may wish to relocate, such as moving to a nearby city or even out of state. However, the custodial parent typically can’t move the child without permission from the court and the other parent.

If the non-custodial parent holds established legal parenting time per custody agreements or decrees, the custodial parent needs authorization first before relocating their child outside the region. Without consent or court dispensation, taking children away infringes on encoded rights, sustaining bonds between kids and both maternal as well as paternal connections.

Seeking court approval for moves impacting existing access mandates a filing what’s known as a “removal proceeding.” In those petitions, the custodial parent must legally prove that planned moves serve the children’s best interests overall despite curbing in-person interactions with one guardian.

Judges analyze several factors when evaluating and will deny relocation requests in different situations. Key criteria include:

  • Current age
  • Specific developmental needs
  • The strength of relationships with each parent
  • The feasibility of sustaining connections at a distance
  • Logistics around travel access and costs, and
  • The overarching furtherance of children’s well-being based on circumstances

Custodial rights don’t guarantee unconditional authority to uproot children near or dearly when co-parenting decrees or separation agreements encode dual protections preserving both family relationships in a child’s life.

Consult our experienced family law attorneys if considering any moves interfering with encoded visitation terms to understand your options and risks and navigate the required legal steps protecting the priority – your child’s equilibrium.

Consult Our Minneapolis Child Custody Lawyers Today

The ins and outs of child custody law in Minnesota can be hard to grasp as a parent. To protect your rights as the primary custodial parent, it’s wise to consult an attorney.

At Martine Law, our experienced family law attorneys guide Minnesota parents through contested custody cases and modifications. We are dedicated advocates for your interests and will develop creative solutions in your child’s best interest.

To schedule a consultation with our Minneapolis child custody lawyers, reach out to us online. Let’s discuss your rights, responsibilities, and options as the primary custodial parent.

Contact us now to get started.