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State of Minnesota considers revising child custody law

Minnesota could soon be changing its laws regarding child custody after divorce. Currently, a judge is given ultimate say over the child's custody if the splitting spouses fail to agree on a parenting plan.

The new bill is called the Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act. It would automatically give each parent in a divorce at least 45.1% of parenting time if no agreement can be made, barring serious exceptions such as domestic violence or prior incidents of child abuse. The law establishes joint child custody for divorcing parents, and studies show this is a good thing for the child.

"The research says that kids need both parents equally," said Molly Olson, founder of the Center for Parental Responsibility. "Kids are more successful with both parents in their lives," she said.

After being debated for many legislative sessions, the Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act finally passed the House Civil Law Committee last April. This session, the House Judiciary and Policy Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear the debate on this bill.

Despite its good intentions, there are opponents of the bill. An attorney on the Minnesota State Bar Association, which testified against the bill when it passed in April, protested the bill's "quantitative analysis" and that it was time to focus on "what the child wants."

"Is it good time for a kid to spend an hour driving back and forth between mom and dad when they have a test tomorrow at school that they are worried about?" she said. "What about a child's right to have an upbringing free of animosity and anger from the two most important people in their lives?"

Source: Minnesota Lawyer, "2012 Session: Child custody fight headed to St. Paul," Patrick Thornton, Jan. 20, 2012

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