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Minnesota’s residency requirements for custody hearings

In an age where Americans may frequently change their state residency due to the requirements of their job or if they are seeking a better quality of life, some parents may wonder if they have resided in Minnesota long enough for a Minnesota judge to hear their child custody case. State law addresses this issue, and also lays out certain criteria for a Minnesota judge to hear custody cases in the event a family is divided across state lines.

According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website, as a general rule, if a person wants to have child custody disputes or other determinations resolved by a Minnesota judge, the child should have been a resident of the state with at least one parent or an individual acting as the child’s parent for at least six consecutive months, or 180 days, before the court process can be started. Sometimes, however, if an emergency arises, a person may still file for custody in a Minnesota court.

However, not all child custody issues are that simple. In some cases, the parent may live in Minnesota but the child resides in another state with the other parent. This is a case of “interstate custody”. Still, Minnesota state law makes provisions for a Minnesota court exercising jurisdiction over children who reside in other states if the court makes a number of determinations.

First, a Minnesota court may exercise jurisdiction if it decides that the child or the parents of the child, or at least one of the child’s parents or an acting parent possesses a strong connection with Minnesota other than simply residing in the state. In some cases, a Minnesota court may determine that the substance of evidence in Minnesota that involves the care, education, personal relationships and protection of the child is sufficient to grant jurisdiction.

Additionally, a Minnesota court may also exercise jurisdiction if the court in another state does not possess jurisdiction powers over a child due to residency requirements spelled out in the first clause of Minnesota state law 518D.201. The courts in the child’s other home state may also determine that Minnesota jurisdiction is more appropriate for hearing custody issues and decline to exert their own jurisdiction over the child.

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