Almost every St. Paul parent going through a child custody matter want what is best for their kids. But two parents raising the same children do not necessarily agree on what that “best” is.
Parenting time is a crucial example. Though most parents going through divorce want their kids to spend time with their ex, the spouses often do not agree how to divide parenting time, at least at first. Each of them might feel that the kids would be better off living with them most of the time. Often, both sides have good cases for having primary custody.
Minnesota’s child custody law and dispute process
Minnesota’s child custody law begins with the presumption that each parent is entitled to custody of the kids at least 25 percent of the time. When the parents cannot work out how the divide the other 50 percent of parenting time, and alternative dispute resolution techniques like mediation cannot help, the judge steps in. They consider 12 factors laid out in the law to decide the parenting plan order. Each parent presents evidence to support their preferred arrangement.
Unfair to dads?
But some parents and activists in Minnesota and across the country say the system is not even-handed. Many of them believe that courts favor mothers in child custody disputes. They are calling for a change to the law that would presume the parents will share parenting time 50-50 unless one or both of them provide evidence that this would not be in the best interests of the children.
This debate has been going on for a while in Minnesota. A bill to create a joint custody presumption failed to pass the House in 2019. And it is likely to continue. Fortunately, most unmarried or divorcing parents find a way to compromise and work out a solution out of court with their attorneys’ help.