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Divorce and child custody matters require maturity and compromise

Some of the most heart-wrenching issues all divorcing parents with young children must face are those related to child custody. Some parents immediately take a hard stance when it comes to attempting to win child custody. While a parent may be granted primary custody in cases where one parent has a documented history of substance abuse or domestic violence, in most cases Minnesota courts attempt to ensure that both parents are given the opportunity to play an active and equal role in a child's life.

Gone are the days when most women stayed home to raise children. Today, many women continue to work after becoming mothers. Whether by choice or out of financial necessity, with more mothers working many dads have taken an active role in raising their children. Many family law judges, therefore, favor joint custody arrangements with both parents sharing physical custody of a child.

In some cases, parents who were never married or whose divorce was amicable may not think they need a formal child custody or visitation agreement. While healthy co-parenting relationships certainly exist, an otherwise amicable and respectful relationship between exes can quickly sour. For the sake of all involved parties, it's always a good idea to take steps to formalize a child custody and visitation agreement.

Of course some parents take the opposite stance and work hard to try to convince a judge that an ex-spouse is an unfit or neglectful parent. In many cases, however, judges don't look favorably upon parents who file for primary custody and fail to consider what's truly in their child's best interest. The same holds true in child support matters. The parent receiving child support does not have the legal right to deny the paying spouse access to a child, even if he or she is behind in payments.

Matters related to child custody and child support are highly emotional and can quickly turn contentious. While it can be extremely difficult, for the sake of a shared child, divorcing parents would be wise to be respectful of one another and the important role each plays in a child's life.

Source: The Huffington Post, "Five Custody Myths Separating Parents Need to Know," Carla Schiff Donnelly, June 5, 2014

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