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What happens with child support in third-party custody cases?

Child custody decisions are perhaps the most delicate matters that courts in Minnesota or anywhere else have to deal with. Attempting to assess all the factors that could affect the interests of the parties can be complicated. And ensuring the best interests of the affected children is of paramount concern.

In today's environment, the definition of family is changing at a rapid pace. Unmarried parents may be vying for custody rights. In some instances, the parents -- married or not -- have personal issues that make them unfit to have custody and third-party custodians need to be considered. If a grandparent, uncle, aunt, or even an unrelated friend is granted custody, questions of support might come into play.

Obviously, regulation of support payments is a serious social issue. Minnesota law currently doesn't specify how child support should be calculated in third-party custody matters. Rather, it points to other sections of state statutes as a guide for courts to proceed.

For example, one relevant section states that if a child support order already exists, the person paying that support when a third party is granted custody of a child is expected to continue fulfilling the obligation.

At the same time, another section of the law says that if no support order exists or conditions are such that some modification is needed, a third-party custodian may have cause and can go to court for help.

It becomes easy to see that navigating the intricacies of the legal system can be a challenge. Anyone with questions about how to proceed should plan to consult an attorney with demonstrated skill and experience.

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