Changing Custody: Integration into the Other Party’s Home

Here is a common scenario: Husband and Wife get divorced. Wife is awarded sole physical custody of the parties’ two young minor children. Fast forward ten years, and one of these children is a teenager. Teenager is no longer getting along with her mother, and decides that she wants to live at her father’s house. Her mom tells her to “go ahead” and the teenager packs her bags and over the next weekend moves in with dad.

Is there any way that Dad can get custody of the parties’ minor child without having to meet the typically endangerment standard?

Under Minnesota Statute §518.18, the Court can modify custody if the child has been integrated into the other parent’s home with the consent of the other party.

In determining whether a child has been integrated into the non-custodial family, the court considers the factors such as length of time spent in the non-custodial parent’s home and time spent caring for the child. So in this scenario, one weekend spent with dad does not necessarily been that the child has been integrated into the father’s home. It will probably take a reasonable period of time with the child living in the home for custody to be modified.

Also remember: the failure to object to the change of residence may constitute implicit consent to the integration. Gibson v Gibson, 471 NW 2d 384,386 (Minn. Ct. App. 1991). In a slightly different scenario where the teenager packs a bag and leaves for dad’s home without permission, if mom does not object or do anything indicating that she does not agree with this change in residence, then the court can construe this as consent for the integration.

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 Changing Custody: Integration into the Other Partys Home
Katie is a partner at Heimerl & Lammers, and heads the family law group at the firm. She represents clients in all areas of family law, from divorce mediations, to child custody disputes. Katie received her law degree from Hamline University. Katie lives in south Minneapolis with her husband and son. In her free time, she loves to cook and travel.