A new controversial child custody bill was recently passed by the Minnesota House and now moves to the Senate for a vote.
If passed into law, the bill would add a presumption of joint custody (both physical and legal). The purpose of this is to balance the child custody system, which some say heavily favors the mother over the father.
The bill is sponsored by Peggy Scott, R-Andover, who argues the bill is needed to make the MN family law system more fair and just for mothers, fathers, and children. Those against the bill argue that 95 percent of families agree on child custody time anyway, and that presuming join custody would lead to more hostile divorce cases.
Under current Minnesota Law, when joint physical custody is sought or contemplated, the judge considers the following factors to award joint physical custody:
- The ability of the parents to cooperate in rearing their children
- Methods for resolving disputes regarding any major decision concerning the child
- Whether it would be detrimental for the child if one parent were to have sole authority over the child’s upbringing
- Whether domestic abuse has occurred between the parents
“While Minnesota law currently imposes a rebuttable presumption of joint legal custody, changing the law to a presumption of joint physical custody would no longer require judges to contemplate the ability of two parents to effectively co-parent a child when ordering joint physical custody,” says MN divorce attorney, Amanda Crain. “In some scenarios, this may result in two parents being forced to “co-parent” who can do little more than fight every time they attempt to discuss an issue regarding the minor child. The child is exposed to ongoing disputes, emotional impulsivity, aggression, anxiety, and potentially parents that are unable to separate their own needs from those of the child. Such high-conflict parenting is neither in the best-interest of the minor child nor helpful in the child’s development. Additionally, parents that have never been married may not be good candidates for sharing custody, when there has not been a prior long term relationship, history of joint decision making, or past mutual support to expound upon.”
The bill was passed through the Minnesota House by an 80-53 vote. It now passes to the Senate.