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Co-Parenting in Minnesota: Joint Custody Tips for Divorced Parents

Custody and Parental Rights

Under Minnesota law, when deciding custody of a child or children, the court must consider what is in the child's best interests, such as the emotional and mental wellbeing of the child. Minnesota courts recognize both legal and physical custody, as per Minnesota Statue (Minn. Stat. 518C.002). Legal custody is the responsibility of the custodial parent, who will make decisions regarding the child's health, education and wellbeing, including religious upbringing if applicable. Physical custody is the responsibility of the custodial parent, who has primary custody responsibility over the child, and if applicable, with whom the child would primarily reside. The non-custodial parent would generally be responsible for paying child support, as per Minnesota Statutes (Minn. Stat. 518A.39– 518A.41).


Child Support and Co-Parenting Expenses

Minnesota regulates the payment of child support according to a standardized calculation which considers factors such as each parent's income and parental time-sharing. Payments are to be made to the other parent, the support recipient, in the form of cash. The Minnesota Parenting Expense Schedule also provides a guideline for split payment of extraordinary medical expenses, daycare, school expenses, and other educational costs incurred while caring for the child.


Sometimes co-parents may need to negotiate and share other living expenses that are not included in the Minnesota Parenting Expense Schedule, such as housing payments, utility bills, and food expenses. In this case, a written agreement defining each parent's responsibility should be made, and co-parents should be sure to discuss who is responsible for any additional expenses before entering the agreement. It is important to note that these agreements are not legally binding.


Decisions, Visitation Rights, and Parenting Plans

If a court orders that one parent has physical custody, the other parent usually has the right to visit with the child, and the court may decide the specifics of that arrangement. In making such decisions, the court must consider the child's age, health, relationships, and religious background. Some examples of visitation rights could include supervised parenting time with grandparents or step-parent visitation. Additionally, non-custodial parents may be held responsible for transportation expenses incurred from travel between custodial and non-custodial households.


The Minnesota court system requires that both parents submit a written parenting plan. The plan should address issues such as education, parenting time, custody, health insurance, and discipline. Additionally, issues such as communication, decision-making between the two parents, and any other matter pertinent to the child's wellbeing should be addressed in the plan. The parenting plan must include provisions for emergencies, contingencies, and must be revised at least every three years or upon major life changes.


Mediation Services

When issues regarding a child's custody, support, or other matters arise, parents are strongly encouraged to seek out mediation services in order to resolve any disputes. The court may recommend that the parents utilize these services, or they may independently seek out services. The purpose of mediation is to help parents come to an agreement regarding their responsibilities and the best interests of their children. Mediators are trained to assist parents in finding out underlying issues and coming to an understanding that works for all parties.



Co-parenting in Minnesota is a unique procedural and emotional process for the entire family. For the best possible outcome for all parties, it is important that both parents take the initiative to understand the state laws and expectations and to effectively communicate with each other for the betterment of the child. With a shared commitment to understanding and utilizing the relevant legal process, co-parenting can become a practical, beneficial and viable option.


Fact Check and Resources

In crafting this post, we conducted thorough fact-checking and research, consulting the following sources:


Co-parenting in USA


Co-parenting in Canada


Warning:  This post is neither financial, health, legal, or personal advice nor a substitute for the advice offered by a professional. These are serious matters, and the help of a professional is recommended as it can impact your future.

Thousands of co-parents worldwide have successfully managed custody schedules, shared children's expenses, and communication with Cent.

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