Custody Cases: Be Careful What You Say

Posted on Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 by Marc Beyer and is filed under Child Custody,  Divorce,  Process.

Child Custody Cases Minneapolis

Contested custody cases can be nasty. A lot of dirty laundry gets aired. In many ways, “winning” your custody case feels like convincing the Court that you are the better parent. That can mean not only explaining how great you are, but also how terrible your spouse is. Both sides do this. It isn’t a pleasant experience.

If you do find yourself in a contested custody case, though, you need to be careful about what you say about your spouse. The Court will decide custody and parenting time based upon what is in the “best interests of the child.” This is determined based upon 12 factors that are prescribed by statute. (I won’t list them here, but if you want to look them up, follow this link.

Also provided in this statute is the following provision: “The Court shall not consider conduct of a party that does not affect the party’s relationship with the child.” This is consistent with the notion that Minnesota is a no-fault divorce state. In contested custody proceedings in particular, people are very tempted to discuss conduct of their spouse that really does not affect the party’s relationship with the child. For example, I was once involved in a case where the husband had a fetish with women’s underwear. He had a rather large supply, and the presumption was that he enjoyed wearing them. In another case, the mother was once employed as an exotic dancer. In both cases, the other spouse was tempted to bring these facts to the attention of the Court, as if they reflected on their spouse’s moral character, and ultimately, their fitness as a parent.

But, these facts do not really go to any of the “best interest factors” from the statute cited above. Bringing them up really only serves the purpose of embarrassing the other party. By law, if the conduct does not affect the party’s relationship with the child, then the Court shall not consider it.

Be careful, then, about what you choose to say about your spouse in a contested custody case. If it does not affect your spouse’s relationship with the child, bite your tongue. Bringing up such facts will only hurt your case, as the Court will only see you as trying to embarrass your spouse in a way that the law does not allow.

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If you are facing divorce and any of the divorce-related issues such as spousal maintenance, child support, child custody, property division, or domestic abuse matters, you need our experienced Minneapolis divorce attorneys to help you. Contact Beyer & Simonson in Edina, Minnesota today at (952) 303-6007.