Minnesota child custody proceedings can be part of a divorce process if minor children are involved or could be a separate Court proceeding altogether if the two parents are not married. If the two parents are not married, and if the father signed a Recognition of Parentage (which is different the signing the birth certificate at the hospital) acknowledging that he is the father of the child, then either the mom or the dad could commence a Minnesota child custody proceeding by serving and filing a Petition for Child Custody. Minnesota law does provide that when the parents are not married, that the mother has sole custody of the minor child or children until such time that a Court Order states otherwise. With this being the case, most frequently (but not always) it is the father who commences the Petition for Child Custody. If the father did not sign a Recognition of Parentage, then a Paternity Action must first be commenced to establish that the father is in fact the father of the child before the Court will award to the father custody or parenting time.

Minnesota child custody is determined based on the best interests of the children. Minnesota law provides a guideline and factors for determining the best interests of the children, which provides:

(1) The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to custody;

(2) The reasonable preference of the child, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;

(3) The child's primary caretaker;

(4) The intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child;

(5) The interaction and interrelationship of the child with a parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;

(6) The child's adjustment to home, school, and community;

(7) The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;

(8) The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;

(9) The mental and physical health of all individuals involved;

(10) The capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's culture and religion or creed, if any;

(11) The child's cultural background;

(12) The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse, that has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual; and

(13) The disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child (except in cases of domestic abuse)