Janet L. Goehle, Attorney at Law
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Minnesota not the only state with ongoing child custody debate

The status of the law is never static. People change. Society changes, and the law tries to keep up. St. Paul is the hub of the legislative community tinkering with Minnesota's family law. These changes generally come slow as societal views change with common occurrences. However, changes can also be accelerated by dramatic events. Minnesota has seen both over the past year, and it is not alone.

A good example of how laws get changed in happening in New England. Recently, a nine-year old New Hampshire boy was killed by his father during a supervised visitation. The father then killed himself. The murder suicide occurred as the father was embroiled in a child custody dispute with the boy's mother.

Previously, another father had set himself on fire on the steps of a courthouse, while yet another dad was charged with killing his ex-wife's husband and then himself. Both were in the middle of custody disputes. Now, the legislature in New Hampshire wants to know what it can do to stem these acts of violence. The focus of the debate is on what they can do in "high-conflict" cases. There is no easy solution.

Here in Minnesota, the St. Paul legislature has struggled for years on what it can do to make the process safe for those involved. While a lot of good has been done, a lot more is left to do. Those involved in high-conflict custody disputes are encouraged to contact a local attorney to show them the way. These professionals know how the law has changed, and know how it can be leveraged to reduce conflict and keep everyone safe.

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, "Murder-suicide revives custody-rights debate," Shawne Wickam, Aug. 18, 2013.

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