The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed and remanded part of a district court’s case involving modifying child custody on September 3, 2019 in the case of Adam C. Steele, Appellant vs Sarah M. Held, Respondent. The Appellant had filed a responsive motion with the court requesting a modification of child custody, and with that motion, an affidavit which included details about the child’s preferences to not be with the mother (Respondent). The district court determined that the Appellant did not meet the elements required to modify an existing custody order; the court of appeals determined the district court erred on that determination. The allegations and supporting documentation provided by the Respondent indicate a strained relationship between the child and Respondent which qualify as a significant change in circumstances. A district court may deny an evidentiary hearing for a motion to modify child custody if it is obvious that the child has been manipulated into stating their preferences for the moving party. In this case, based on submitted medical records, the child has not been manipulated by the Appellant, but the relationship between the Respondent and child has simply declined to the point that a modification of custody would be in the best interests of the child. Due to the court of appeals decision, they reverse and remand for an evidentiary hearing on the Appellant’s custody-modification motion.
Children’s Preferences for Custody Arrangements
Sep 5, 2019