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Entries in Minnesota (2)

Tuesday
May292012

Minnesota Shared Parenting bill vetoed by Governor Dayton

Minnesota State HouseGovernor Mark Dayton vetoed the Shared Parenting bill HF 322 on Thursday 24th May 2012. Governor Dayton outlined his decision in a letter to the Speaker of the House, Kurt Zellers. The Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act would have altered the current presumption of a 25:75 care split to a 35:65 care split. The minimum presumption of 35% would have increased parenting time by a minimum of 37 days. 

In his letter to the Speaker of the House, Governor Dayton stated that "Every divorce is different; therefore, each divorce has its own unique set of facts, conditions, and circumstances. Thus it is very difficult to codify one set of presumptions and preferences, which will apply to every family situation." 

Given that every divorce is different surely it would be better to presume that each parent has an equal right to parent their child. If a positive presumption was made that both parents wish to be equally involved in their child's life then parents could focus on the practical realities of arranging drop-offs, pick-ups, holidays and parents evening. Rather than have one party fight to be allowed in their child's life conflict could be diffused by presuming from the outset that both parents want to be involved in their child's upbringing. Not everyone will be able to share parenting 50:50 down the line and that is not what is meant by shared parenting. However if there was a positive starting point then parties could spend more time focusing on the welfare and needs of their children.

Governor Dayton was "[t]orn between the persuasive arguments of both proponents and opponents of the legislation, [he was] particularly influenced by the strong opposition of so many organizations (although not all of their members), who work everyday with the most challenging divorces and their effects on the well-being, and even the safety, of parents and children."

It would appear that the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the Family Law Section of the Minnesota Bar, who have a lot to gain from ongoing conflict, where given more of a voice than court users who have found the unbalanced system has prevented them from being actively involved in their child's life.

Monday
May212012

Are Minnesota paving the way for Shared Parenting?

Minnesota State HouseThe Minnesota House and Senate has passed the Shared Parenting bill. This bill creates the Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act and establishes a rebuttable presumption of joint legal and joint physical child custody. Having being passed the bill is currently awaiting the attention of Governor Mark Dayton. The Governor will decide whether to sign or veto the bill. 

The passing of the bill has opened up the debate on shared parenting within the state of Minnesota.  

Molly Olson, head of the Center for Parental Responsibility stated that "by putting parents on an equal playing field, then and only then can we reduce conflict, eliminate the win-lose model that currently operates in law." The Center for Parental Responsibility wish to "remove obstacles that prevent parents from being fully and equally involved in the lives of their children."

We shall be watching to see if the bill becomes law and what lessons can be learned from this example.