The Importance of Temporary Custody in Minnesota
In cases where the issue of custody is contested, there is often an initial hearing where the Court
decides issues of custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, occupancy of the
homestead, etc. on a temporary basis, pending issuance of the final Judgment & Decree or
Divorce - which can be several months or even a year or more in contested custody cases.1
The general rule is that no testimony is taken at the temporary relief hearing.2
Rather, the Court decides the issues of temporary custody, etc., on the basis of parties' respective
motions and affidavits, and on the arguments of counsel made at the hearing. 3 It
is extremely important to take the time at this stage to get affidavits and documentation from all
those who have relevant knowledge.
Legally, the fact that one party or the other is granted temporary custody has no bearing on which
party should ultimately be awarded permanent custody in the final Judgment and Decree of
Divorce.4 However, it is important to understand that the temporary custody
order represents the Court's best initial guess as to which parent is the more suitable custodian,
and it sets the tone for subsequent the proceedings.
Temporary orders may be modified at any time during the pendency of the proceedings.5
However, in practice, the Court will not seriously consider a motion to modify
temporary custody unless there has been a demonstrable change of circumstances since the prior
order. The most common reason for modification of a temporary order is the issuance of the
custody evaluator's report.
NOTE WELL: If you intend to seek custody, it is important that at the time of separation you do
not move out and leave the children in the care of the other party in the marital home. If you do
so, the other parent will certainly argue that he or she should be awarded temporary custody of the children simply to maintain continuity.
1 Minnesota Statute section 518.131.
2 Rule 303.03 (d), General Rules of Practice.
4 Minnesota Statute section 518.131, Subdivision 9(a).
5 Minnesota Statute section 518.131, Subdivision 9(b).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric C. Nelson has devoted his practice exclusively to family law, with particular focus on divorce
and child custody matters, including, but not limited to post-decree modification of custody.
Eric has successfully handled hundreds of cases of divorces (both contested and uncontested),
child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, parenting time, out-of-state moves, domestic abuse,
harassment, and other miscellaneous family law matters, both in and out of court.
Mr. Nelson has been praised by clients for a respectful attitude, promptness and honesty.
He can be contacted by phone at (612)321-9402 or or Visit Web Site
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