Going through a custody or visitation dispute is never easy. As a parent, it is crucial that you have an understanding of your rights and your options so that you are in the best position to protect yourself and your family. Unfortunately, there are many common myths about how child custody actually works. In this article, our Southern Minnesota child custody attorney debunks five of the most common misconceptions about custody and visitation.
1. The Mother Gets Presumptive Custody Rights in Minnesota
False. One of the most prevalent myths about child custody in Minnesota is that mothers automatically receive presumptive custody rights. While some states used to work this way many decades ago, the Supreme Court of the United States has invalidated all facially discriminatory custody and visitation laws. Mothers and fathers have an equal right to seek custody.
2. We Disagree Over Custody, So We are Going to End Up in Litigation
False. Although it is true that some custody disputes are resolved through litigation, many others are settled through mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods. These methods provide a less adversarial and more collaborative approach to resolving custody disputes and can often lead to more satisfactory outcomes for all parties involved, especially the children.
3. The Child has No Say in the Custody Process
False. In Minnesota (MN Statutes Sec. 518.17), one of the best interests of the child factors is the “reasonable preference” of the child. If deemed age appropriate and maturity-level appropriate, a court can consider a child’s stated preferences in a custody case. That is not to say that the child gets the final decision. Though, with teenagers, Minnesota courts will generally allow input.
4. When a Parent is Behind on Child Support, they Lose Custody/Visitation Rights
False. Child support matters. A parent who is owed child support has many different enforcement options available to seek payment. That being said, the belief that a parent who is behind on child support payments will automatically lose custody or visitation rights is not accurate. No parent has the right to deny access to a child because of unpaid child support. They need to deal with this matter through the proper legal channels.
5. A Custody Order/Agreement Can Never Be Changed Once it is in Place
False. It is a myth that once a custody order or agreement is in place, it can never be modified. In fact, circumstances can change over time, and it may become necessary to modify a custody arrangement to better reflect the changing needs of the child and the parents. To modify a custody arrangement, a parent must file a motion with the court and provide evidence of a substantial change in circumstances. The court will then determine if a modification is in the best interests of the child.
Set Up a Fully Confidential Consultation With a Minnesota Child Custody Attorney
At Kohlmeyer Hagen, Law Office Chtd., our Rochester family lawyers are compassionate, experienced advocates for parents. Have questions about custody? We can help. Contact our law firm now for a confidential initial consultation. With an office in Rochester, we represent parents throughout Southern Minnesota, including in Mankato, Stewartville, Faribault, and Kasson.