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Minnesota law places restrictions on child custody modifications

On Behalf of | Nov 6, 2021 | Family Law

When divorcing parents work out child custody agreements, they can’t know for certain what the future will bring. They may need to seek a modification later as their children get older and as their own circumstances change. 

If parents haven’t been able to agree on terms, a judge has to hand down a custody order based on the child’s best interests. It’s not common for one parent to be dissatisfied and want to seek a change as soon as possible.

Regardless of which of these scenarios applies to you, what do you need to know if you want to change a custody order in Minnesota

Time restraints for custody modifications

First, you typically have to wait for at least a year to change your custody order. There are exceptions for things like “persistent and willful denial or interference with parenting time” or if “the child’s present environment may endanger the child’s physical or emotional health….”

Under Minnesota law, once a parent’s custody modification request has been heard by a judge, even if it wasn’t granted, another modification request can’t be made for two more years, unless agreed to by both parents.

The “best interests of the child” are key

Family courts are especially hesitant to change a child’s primary residence without good reason. Even after the necessary time has passed, a parent has to show that a change is necessary for their child’s best interests. If a child’s primary residence is changed via a custody modification, any child support order will likely be changed accordingly.

Minnesota law intends for custody modifications to be rare and only made when a child’s well-being warrants one. A modification agreed to by both parents because it’s in a child’s best interests is more likely to be approved than one sought solely by one parent over the objection of the other. 

If you believe that a custody modification is warranted, or if your co-parent is seeking one, it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance. This will help you protect your rights and your child’s best interests.