Child endangerment, domestic abuse and custody matters in Minnesota

Criminal law and family law often intersect in Minnesota when suspected negligence or domestic abuse is an issue. In Minnesota, the neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse or mental injury of a child is a crime, meaning a parent may faces criminal charges for such behavior. Neglect is the most common crime involving child endangerment, which involves a parent not providing a child with necessary food, clothing, shelter or supervision. Exposing children to illegal drugs or not properly educating a child are also considered neglect.

It is also a crime for failing to report abuse or neglect, as is falsely accusing a parent of abuse when the accuser knows it is not true.

Minnesota places a high priority on protecting children. When a child is in danger, the state will act to remove the child from the dangerous situation. However, it is also possible for a parent to receive services in order to help their family. This could include counseling, parenting education, financial benefits, or access to early childhood or special education.

When domestic abuse, neglect or child endangerment are at issue, there are also some family law considerations. These include orders of protection, child custody and child support.

Civil order of protection

An order for protection is a court order that prevents an abuser from contacting, harming or threatening a victim. A person can obtain a temporary order of protection even if the alleged abuser has not yet committed a crime. Simply believing a spouse or significant other may be a danger is enough to obtain a temporary OFP.

The petitioner (the person filing for an order for protection) can also ask for an OFP for a child if the child is a minor and under the threat of abuse.

Custody considerations

In Minnesota, child custody is determined by the best interests of the child. If suspected abuse has occurred, or there has been a history of abuse, the court will take that into account when deciding custody and visitation matters.

When deciding custody matters, courts give preference to the parents of the child. However, the court will not automatically give preference to a mother over a father. In Minnesota grandparents can petition to have custody, but the grandparents must prove the parents of the child are unfit to care for the child in order to do so. Grandparents can obtain visitation rights if a parent denies the right for a grandparent to see the child for no reason.

Even if a parent is not granted custody or visitation rights, that parent is financially responsible for raising the child. This means a noncustodial parent will pay child support. How much a non-custodial parent must pay in child support depends on the income of the parents, the needs of the child and how much time each parent spends with the child.

A family law attorney can help

Navigating family law and criminal issues that involve domestic abuse or child endangerment can be incredibly difficult and emotional. Minnesota parents concerned about child abuse and neglect should contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss their legal rights and options.