When Governor Mark Dayton refused to sign the equal parenting time custody bill into law in 2013, he directed the interested parties to form a Custody Dialogue Group. This group consisted of interested parties across the board, from attorneys to evaluators to parents’ rights groups to mediators and advocates representing victims of domestic abuse. After months of hard work the Group has an outline of a bill to be presented to the legislature. The bill discusses shared parenting and addresses issues from the interested parties. As with all compromises, I don’t think anyone will be 100% happy with the final product, but what I have seen of the proposed bill, it does attempt to balance interests of various parties: from those who feel that every parent deserves 50% of parenting time to those child development folks who worry that lack of a ‘home base’ can be damaging to young children.
As an Anoka County Family Law attorney, I have been on both sides of this issue: From representing good fathers who have lost custody seemingly only because the mother was not an ‘unfit’ parent, to representing mothers where the opposing father has forced a custody trial in a bid for 50-50 custody, only to completely cease seeing the children upon losing this quest after trial.
In my experience, fathers are far more involved in raising their children than they were 20 years ago, and the working language of the proposed legislation appears to take this fact into account.
For example, in some counties, one parent’s refusal to consider a 50-50 parenting plan is considered to be enough to fail to award such a plan. The proposed legislation addresses this issue and notes that one parent’s objection alone cannot stop a 50-50 parenting time schedule from being implemented. It is early days yet, and I will keep on top of the legislation as it moves through the Minnesota House and Senate. I will attach a link to the bills as they are presented and move through the process.