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Custody and Parenting Time Evaluation


Home l Referral by the Court l Mediation l Evaluation l Custody and Best Interest of ChildrenDevelopmental Stages of Children l Parenting TimeParents Helping Their ChildrenParenting Time Evaluation l Domestic Abuse l Community Resources l Book ResourcesPrivacy Rights l Fee Schedule


Court Initial Order

When Agreement is not reached in Mediation, or the court refers your case to Domestic Relations for Evaluation only, each parent will be contacted individually by a Family Court Officer to arrange an individual interview appointment date and time.

Legal and Physical Custody

There are two kinds of custody:

1) Legal Custody is the right to make decision about a children’s education, health and welfare.

  • Joint legal custody permits both parents to be involved in these decisions.
  • Sole legal custody gives one parent authority to make these decisions.

2) Physical Custody

  • Physical custody is the actual time your children spend with each parent.
  • Joint physical custody means that each parent has significant time with the children (not necessarily\50:50)
  • Sole physical custody means that the children live with one parent and the other parent, either by agreement between the parents, or by order of the court, has scheduled parenting time.

Evaluation Process

The Family Court Officer will consider all available and relevant information about the parents and children and make recommendations to the court in a written report based on evaluation of the 13 Best Interest Factors (MN Statute 518.17). A copy of the report is sent to each parent, or to their attorney if they are represented. For more information, read Custody and Support of Children on Judgment MN Statute.

The law does not specify an exact age when children may determine where they live.
A child’s maturity as well as the developmental stage of the child is considered when deciding how much weight should be given to the child’s preference.

Domestic Relations is mandated to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect to Child Protection.

Each parent will:

  • Complete a parent questionnaire
  • Provide 3 personal references
  • Provide professional collaterals (M.D. , School, Childcare, etc.)
  • Be interviewed individually at Domestic Relations

The Family Court Officer will typically visit the home of each party, and also observe each party individually with the children.

Court Hearing

Following completion of the custody evaluation report to the court, the parents and counsel will attend a court hearing to review custody recommendations by Domestic Relations. The judge or referee will encourage the parties to settle, and schedule an evidentiary hearing if the parties are still in disagreement. The Judicial officer may order temporary custody and parenting time arrangements pending the outcome of the evidentiary hearing.

The Judicial officer’s order will detail legal and physical custody, and/or a detailed parenting plan, together with any other matters considered to be in the best interests of the child such as requirements to complete parenting classes, anger management, drug/alcohol treatment, counseling. The court may also address financial issues.

The Court Order is enforceable and remains in effect until another Order is made to replace it.

Parenting Time Services (PTS)

The court may re-refer indigent parties back to Domestic Relations for Parenting Time Services (6 or 12 months). PTS assists parents with completion of the requirements of the court order (eg. drug testing, chemical dependency evaluation/treatment, parenting classes , etc.). PTS are free. The Family Court Officer will make a brief written report to the court at the completion.