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Testimonials | Immigration, Auto & Personal Injury Law | Minneapolis



Immigration status and child custody: a Minnesota case

April 11, 2013 – David Hahn

Robichaud Law - Minneapolis Personal Injury & Immigration Attorneys

Should immigration status be a factor in child custody decisions? The Minnesota Court of Appeals held last week that the answer is no. Just because someone is undocumented, that alone should not weigh against him or her when a court must make a child custody decision.

The case concerned an undocumented mother who gave birth to a child as a teenager. The father was also a teenager. The two teens did not get married. After their daughter, April, was born, they lived with the father’s parents.

April’s mother was an undocumented immigrant and her father was a legal resident. The grandparents with whom they lived were a U.S. citizen and a legal resident, respectively.

After 2 ½ years, April’s mother moved out of the grandparents’ house following an argument. The grandparents sought sole legal custody of April on an emergency basis. The trial court granted them sole custody. This meant both physical custody and legal custody. In its decision, the trial court noted that April’s mother did not have legal status in the U.S.

The court of appeals found that the trial court erred. The appeals court awarded custody of April to her mother, holding that immigration status did not affect her fitness as a parent.

April’s father did not ask petition for custody. That made the case a rather unusual one.

Under Minnesota law, biological parents are generally favored in custody contests with non-parents unless there are very compelling reasons to the contrary. Undocumented status, the appeals court held, is not such a reason.

Source: “Immigration status not a factor in custody battle, Minnesota court says,” Star Tribune, Abby Simons, 4-8-13

Please visit our page on family immigration.

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