Child custody disputes can be highly emotional. The well-being of a child is at stake. Both parents want to be close to their child. Unfortunately, a child can only be in one place at a time, and children often find themselves caught in the middle. And, sometimes custody disputes are not so much genuine disagreements about what is best for the child, but principled disputes between two divorcing spouses.
If you find yourself in a child custody dispute, whether part of a divorce or not, you need an experienced Minneapolis family law lawyer to guide you through the process. Having the proper legal guidance will help you achieve the result that you are looking for. Be sure to read our Child Custody Cases – Be Careful What You Say article.
Understanding The Two Types Of Custody
There are two types of custody: physical and legal. Physical custody simply refers to where the child resides, and who is responsible for making the day-to-day decisions for the child. If the child resides with both parents on an equal basis, or near equal basis, the law calls this “joint physical custody.” If a child lives primarily with one parent, that parent is said to have “sole physical custody” subject to the other parent’s right to parenting time. While the law recognizes these custody labels, they are not nearly as important as the parenting time schedule.
The other type of custody, legal custody, refers to the parent making decisions regarding the child’s education, health, and religious upbringing. The parent with legal custody has primary responsibility for the child in these areas. There is a presumption in the law that it is in the best interests of the child for the parents to share joint legal custody unless there has been domestic abuse.
Custody can be modified at any time through a post-decree custody modification proceeding. If something changes, such as a parent moving, then this could affect custody and/or parenting time.
Guidance Through Social Early Neutral Evaluations (SENE’s) and Custody Evaluations
If custody and parenting time are in dispute at the beginning of your case, depending on the county in which your case is venued, it will almost certainly be referred to a Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE). This is a confidential process in which you have an opportunity to resolve child-related disputes early in the proceedings. At an SENE, both parents take turns telling a male and female team of experienced family court professionals about their family history, attributes of their children, any concerns about the other parent, and what they feel is in the best interests of the children.
After hearing from both parents, the SENE team will tell both sides what they believe to be in the best interests of the children, and their best guess as to how a Judge would rule if confronted with the same facts at a trial. The parties then spend the rest of the time at the SENE attempting to negotiate a settlement of custody and parenting time issues. SENE’s provide parties an opportunity to have a dialogue about child-related disputes early in the process with the hope that an expensive trial and custody evaluation can be avoided. If agreement cannot be reached at an SENE, because the process is confidential, the Court will not know the recommendations of the evaluators or any settlement offers that may have been made.
You do not want to go through an SENE alone. An experienced Minneapolis family law lawyer at Beyer & Simonson, LLC will help you prepare for the process and tell you what to expect and what not to expect.
Contact A Minneapolis Family Law Attorney
Child custody is a highly emotional and complicated matter, especially when both parents are seeking physical custody of their child. Commonly a part of divorce, child custody cases also exist outside of divorce and that means you need an attorney with experience in child custody matters to guide you through the process. To learn more about how Beyer & Simonson, LLC can help you, call 952-303-6007 and schedule a free consultation.