What Happens to Children in a Divorce?

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CUSTODY. A divorce dissolves your legal relationship with your spouse but not with your children. It is necessary to determine with whom the children will live. The parent the kids normally live with is said to have PHYSICAL custody. The parent who makes decisions concerning their upbringing, including school, church, and medical care is said to have LEGAL custody. At this time, the most common arrangement is for one parent to have sole physical custody of all of the children and both parents to have joint legal custody.

The fact that many people are making this arrangement does not mean that you must. One parent may have physical custody of one child while the other parent has physical custody of another. Also, joint physical custody may be ordered. Joint physical custody can be handled in many different ways, such as this week with mom, next week with dad, or school year with dad, summer vacation with mom.

PARENTING TIME (formerly called Visitation). It is normally assumed that a parent who does not actually live with the children will still have the right to see them on a regular basis. You should think about whether you want to leave this question open or set a schedule. Ask us about parenting time.

CHILD SUPPORT. Most often a parent who does not live with the children will contribute to the support of the children by paying money (called child support) to the parent who lives with the children.  In Minnesota, the child support law requires the Court to divide basic support between the parents based on their proportionate share of the parents’ combined monthly income to determine child support (PICS). This income figure is based on gross income, but makes a number of adjustments. Basic support is then computed using a child support guideline (Minnesota Statutes, §518A.35).

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