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Apr 23 2022

Can Children Express Preference in Minnesota Custody Proceedings?

If you are going through a Minnesota divorce involving children, you naturally have a lot of questions and concerns about your child custody arrangements. One question many divorcing parents have is whether their children are allowed to express their own preferences regarding custody, and the answer is somewhat complicated. If you have child custody concerns of any kind, the best path forward is with an experienced child custody attorney in your corner. 

The Official Answer Is No

The State of Minnesota does not technically take a child’s preference into account when making child custody determinations. But this does not come close to telling the whole story. When Minnesota courts are faced with child custody cases, they are always guided by the best interests of the children involved. This means the court must carefully consider what is best for the children in terms of their overall health, well-being, and social development. 

As such, the court takes a wide range of factors into consideration, and sometimes, the preference of the child – if he or she is old enough and mature enough to weigh in meaningfully – is one of these factors. While the child’s preference is never the deciding factor, it can play a role in the court’s decision-making process. 

Every Child Custody Decision Is Made on a Case-by-Case Basis

In Minnesota child custody cases, the courts are never required to seek the preferences of the children involved (even if they are considered old enough to weigh in). Instead, Minnesota courts take such matters on a case-by-case basis and make their decisions accordingly. While there is no hard and fast rule about when a child is old enough and mature enough to be consulted, children who are over the age of 12 are far more likely to be allowed to do so. 

Keeping Child Custody Cases out of the Courts

It’s not difficult to understand why the State of Minnesota would prefer that parents keep child custody matters out of the courts. Child custody is one of the most emotionally fraught terms of divorce, and it can be even harder on the kids than it is on the parents. If you and your children’s other parent can resolve the matter between yourselves, it’s generally considered better for everyone involved, and towards this end, you have options that include:

  • Negotiate a child custody arrangement between yourselves with the skilled guidance of your respective child custody attorneys
  • Turn to a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), such as mediation (at which a professional mediator in the capacity of a neutral third-party will help you explore your best options)

Don’t Delay Consulting with an Experienced Minnesota Child Custody Attorney

The trusted Minnesota child custody attorneys at Atticus Family Law have the compassion, experience, and legal insight to help you address your child custody concerns with the necessary care and concern for your children’s emotional well-being – in pursuit of arrangements that work for all of you. Learn more by contacting us today.

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