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If a Birth Father Can Prove Paternity, Does that Mean He Will Automatically Get Custody Rights in Minnesota?

Van Valkenburg Law May 5, 2022

Being the birth father only establishes paternity rights. If the father desires more than that, there is always the option to take the matter to court.

How Soon After a Final Custody Order Can You Apply for A Modification to That Custody Order in Minnesota?

If you believe that there is an immediate danger to your child who is not in your custody, you can bring an action before the court to address that danger. In other situations, once you have a custody order or decision from the court, the court will not hear the matter for two years after that.

What Is Necessary for The Court to Consider and Grant a Modification to Child Custody or Child Support in Minnesota?

To bring a modification of custody, you must show one of several things. One, there is an agreement, OR the child has come to live with you and become integrated into your home with the other parent’s consent. When the law talks about being integrated into your home, that means such things as that their schools have changed, their friends have changed, and they become part of your household. Or you can also ask for a modification of custody if the other parent has been consistently interfering with your parenting time. OR you show that the child’s current environment with the other parent is an endangerment to their physical, emotional, or psychological well-being, which is typically quite challenging to prove. The last piece the court considers is whether the benefit of the change is outweighed by the harm of maintaining the current arrangement. The courts do not like upheaval in the child’s life so it is part of the legal burden in seeking a modification of custody.

Modification of child support is a different matter. To modify child support, there must be a significant change of circumstances. This may be in the child’s living situation or in the parent’s financial circumstances.

When Would the Court Request a Custody Evaluation?

Usually, the request for a custody evaluation comes before the court as a request by both parents because they can’t agree on the custody arrangements. A court may order a custody evaluation if it feels that such an evaluation will provide the court information it needs to make a determination on the child’s best interest. It has become much more difficult to get custody evaluations through county services because of the financial resources of the courts. Sometimes, when conducting a custody evaluation, it may be determined there are only certain facts or factors at issue. The court then may order a focused assessment to help resolve the matter. In requesting a custody evaluation, the court may refer it for a private evaluation. The parties would have to hire a professional who specializes in these evaluations. It is more expensive than through the county but much more thorough.

When Would There Be a Guardian Ad Litem or Custody Evaluator Assigned to My Child or Children?

The guardian ad litem will be assigned if the courts feel there have been severe physical issues concerning the child’s safety. At that point, the court makes a mandatory appointment of a guardian ad litem. A guardian ad litem is to be the voice of the child. That does not mean they simply restate what the child has said. The guardian is to hear what the child expresses to them and analyze that through what is in the child’s best interest. They then let the court hear what the child is saying and how that may impact what is in the child’s best interest.

Will My Child Ever Need to Appear in Court?

It’s very, very rare for children to appear in court. There are times when you can request the court to allow the child to testify, but those situations are few and far between. It may have happened twice in my 30 years of practice. When it does happen, the court often will bring the child into the judge’s chambers, and then there are different ways the Judge may handle the testimony. They can allow the attorney to ask questions in the chambers, or they can have the attorneys submit questions to the judge, and the judge will ask questions. The hope is that the child would feel freer to speak their minds without having to testify in front of the parents.

For more information on Child Custody & Parenting Time In Minnesota, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling today.