Minnesota laws assign custody based on the "best interests of the child", meaning all relevant factors to be considered and evaluated by the court including:
1. The wishes of the child's parent or parents as to custody;
2. The reasonable preference of the child as to custody, if the court deems the child to be of sufficient age to express preference;
3. The child's primary caretaker;
4. The intimacy of the relationship between each parent and the child;
5. The interaction and interrelationship of the child with a parent or parents, siblings, and any other person who may significantly affect the child's best interests;
6. The child's adjustment to home, school, and community;
7. The length of time the child has lived in a stable, satisfactory environment and the desirability of maintaining continuity;
8. The permanence, as a family unit, of the existing or proposed custodial home;
9. The mental and physical health of all individuals involved; except that a disability of a proposed custodian or the child shall not be determinative of the custody of the child, unless the proposed custody arrangement is not in the best interest of the child;
10. The capacity and disposition of the parties to give the child love, affection, and guidance, and to continue educating and raising the child in the child's culture and religion or creed, if any;
11. The child's cultural background;
12. The effect on the child of the actions of an abuser, if related to domestic abuse that has occurred between the parents or between a parent and another individual, whether or not the individual alleged to have committed domestic abuse is or ever was a family or household member of the parent; and
13. The disposition of each parent to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact by the other parent with the child.
The court may not use one factor to the exclusion of all others in determining custody of a child. Minnesota laws do not allow the court to consider conduct of a proposed custodian that does not affect the custodian's relationship to the child.
In addition to the factors listed above, where either joint legal custody or joint physical custody is contemplated or sought, the court shall consider the following relevant factors:
1. The ability of parents to cooperate in the rearing of their children;
2. Methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the life of the child, and the parents' willingness to use those methods;
3. Whether it would be detrimental to the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child's upbringing; and
4. Whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parties.