Divorce is hard for the couple ending their marriage, but it is also very hard for any children they share. Losing a relationship with one parent or watching the people they love fight bitterly can be extremely difficult for children to handle.
The Minnesota family courts usually try to keep the focus of custody decisions on what is best for the children. Although the specific needs of children vary, most kids need a strong connection with both of their parents. Given that the judges presiding over family law cases in Minnesota have to prioritize the best interests of the children, it has become common practice for judges to try to split custody between parents.
However, in certain, unusual situations, a judge may agree to give one parent has sole physical custody of the children. When might a judge agree that one parent should have ultimate say over what happens with the family’s children?
When one parent doesn’t assert their parental rights
Sometimes, one parent has always provided the majority of parental oversight and support. The other may have a demanding career. They may even have plans to move out of the state or country after the divorce. Occasionally, one parent will not be in a position to ask for shared custody, such as during incarceration. When only one parent asks for custody, the courts may approve a sole custody arrangement.
When there is evidence that one parent will hurt or endanger the children
A history of abuse or neglect can have a significant impact on what the courts decide is appropriate in custody proceedings. It’s important to understand that simple accusations alone may not be enough to convince a judge that neglect or abuse is possible when the children are in the custody of one parent.
Medical records or police reports showing that one parent physically injured the children or neglected them, leading to injury, could convince a judge that limiting that parent’s access may be what is best for the children.
When one parent is incapable of providing for the needs of the children
Sometimes, a parent who wants to be with their children and who has never intentionally harmed them is still incapable of meeting their needs. They may have serious addiction problems that affect their daily lives and parenting. They could have health issues, ranging from cancer to epilepsy, that would affect their ability to be present and involved with the children.
Generally, only if shared custody poses some kind of risk to the children will a judge give one parent sole custody and limit the other’s access. Understanding how Minnesota handles custody decisions can help you plan for a potential divorce.