Parties to a divorce with children, or even single parents with children, usually want to make provisions for what will happen to their child if they were to die. An individual is always able to designate who they would like to be the child’s guardian in their will or other similar documents. However, Minnesota statutes provide another tool to accomplish this.

Standby Custody

Minnesota Statute § 257B provides for an agreement known as a Standby Custody Designation. This Designation allows a parent to name a specific individual to be a temporary custodian in case something were to happen to the parent where they were unable to act in their role as a parent. The parent is able to put specific triggering events, such as death, where the Designation would take effect.

If both parents are involved in the child’s life, one parent may not use the designation to deprive the other parent of their rights. It is not appropriate to use a Designation where the other parent’s rights have not been terminated, their whereabouts are known, and where they are willing and able to take over the daily custodial role in the child’s life. However, if both parents agree to the individual designated and agree that that individual would take over the child’s care upon the triggering event, then both parents are able to sign the designation.

The Designation is filed with the court, and upon approval, it is effective at the time of the triggering event. No further hearing will be necessary.