Child custody is an essential matter in any divorce.

Clearly, parents all just want what is best for their children, and during a divorce, ensuring what’s in the children’s best interest is essential. A custody agreement should protect the children’s health and well-being while maximizing the amount of time they spend with each parent, to the extent that is possible and reasonable. One part of custody is identifying which parent’s residence is the child’s primary residence. Unfortunately, this is more difficult than it seems, as MN law doesn’t define what “primary residence” actually means.

There is a common misconception that “primary residence” is the product of a basic math problem.

Whichever parent has more time with the child, that parent’s home is the child’s primary residence. But that approach has been rejected by the Minnesota Court of Appeals. While the actual time a parent spends with a child is certainly an essential component of determining primary residence, it is not the only component. In the case Suleski v. Rupe, the Court of Appeals noted that other aspects of the child’s life are important in making this decision, such as where the child attends school, whether the child practices a religion in each respective home, and where the child socializes the most with peers. In most cases, the primary residence is where the child spends the majority of his or her time, but the court has made clear it is not a strictly mathematical issue.

For a DIYvorce, of course, the goal is to avoid the court system. But it is often a helpful guide for ongoing discussions, especially those related to custody and primary residence. The primary residence matters most if a child custody order is being modified by the court. When modifying a custody order, if the primary residence is not changed, the court will look only to the best interest factors to determine whether a new schedule is appropriate. However, if the primary residence of the child is going to change, the court makes additional findings.  These findings include such issues as one parent unreasonably interfering with the parenting time of the other parent, the parent’s environment endangers the health or well-being of the child, or the child has integrated into the family of the requesting parent with the consent of the other parent.

If you are facing child custody, primary residence, or similar problems, contact your DIYvorce representative.
If you are facing this or similar problems, contact your DIYvorce representative for help.