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Minnesota Child Custody Terms

Physical custody. Legal custody. Custodial parent. Parenting time. Family law courts frequently use these terms during child custody proceedings. If you are facing a Minnesota child custody case, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with these terms.

What Are the Different Types of Child Custody in MN?

There are two types of child custody in Minnesota:

  • Physical custody: Physical custody is what most people think of when they hear the term "custody." It refers to where the children live.
  • Legal custody: Parents with legal custody have the right to make decisions about raising their children, including decisions about healthcare, religion and education.

If parents share physical or legal custody of their children, they have "joint custody." If only one parent has physical or legal custody, he or he has "sole custody."

Custodial and Non-Custodial Parents

The custodial parent is the parent who has physical custody of the children. The non-custodial parent generally does not take care of the children on a regular basis.

What Is Parenting Time?

"Parenting time" is the phrase that Minnesota courts use for "visitation." Generally set by court order, parenting time is the time that the non-custodial parent has with the children. For example, if one parent has sole physical custody of the children, the other parent may have parenting time with the children every weekend and on holidays.

What Is Interstate Custody?

In order for a Minnesota court to determine who has physical and legal custody of your child, your child must have lived in Minnesota for at least six months immediately before the court proceedings. If your child lives in another state, you may have to use the more-complex interstate custody laws that help determine what state has "jurisdiction" over your case (the right to hear your case).

Source: Minnesota Judicial Branch, "Basics on Child Custody & Parenting Time."

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