Minnesota Revamps “Best Interest of the Child” Factors

To meet the diverse needs of children and promote their healthy development, a number of important statutory changes have been made to Minnesota law. These changes were made to support the principle that children need safe, stable, and nurturing relationships with both of their parents.

Father Holding Daughter's Hand

The 12 New Best Interest Factors

Previously, there were 13 “Best Interest” factors that assisted courts when deciding primary physical custody after divorce, along with four additional factors if joint custody was pursued. The 12 new Best Interest factors are applicable to all cases between parents, without a presumption for or against either sole or joint physical custody. The new factors include:

  • Physical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual needs of the child
  • Special medical, mental health, or educational needs of a child
  • Reasonable preference of a child
  • Domestic abuse
  • Physical, mental health, or chemical health issues of a parent
  • History and nature of care
  • Ability of a parent to reliably meet the needs of a child, going forward
  • Effect on a child of changes to home, school, and community
  • Effect on significant relationships of a child
  • Benefit to a child in maximizing time or detriment to a child in limiting time
  • Disposition of parents to support relationship with the other parent
  • Ability of parents to cooperate in rearing their child

The new factors include language stating that both parents will be considered by the court as having the capacity to “develop and sustain nurturing relationships with their children,” unless there is evidence otherwise. In assessing whether parents are capable of forming and sustaining nurturing relationships with their children, differences between parents and cultures will be considered. The changes were made not only to meet the changing needs of the child, but also to cause less conflict between parents as they decide parenting time.

If you feel there issues involving children in your family that may be something you’d like to discuss with an experienced family law attorney, contact us at O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss.

 

Image courtesy of Spirit-Fire/flickr.

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