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Minnesotans continue to wait on new child custody law

A few months ago we talked about a potential change to Minnesota's child custody laws, one that would give divorced parents joint custody of their child. Current child custody laws in Minnesota dictate that each parent is entitled to a minimum of 25% custody time after a divorce, with the leftover 50% being determined by a judge if the parents cannot come to an agreement.

In addition, Minnesota law says that if each divorced parent has 45.1% custody of a child, joint custody is granted. That was the goal of the House's version of the proposed child custody rule change - called the Children's Equal and Shared Parenting Act -- which would establish a baseline of 45.1% custody time with a child for each divorced parent.

One issue with making 45.1% custody the law is that by granting automatic joint custody, child support payments become greatly affected. Another matter to settle is whether every parent can handle a mandated joint child custody arrangement. For example, if a mother or father worked long hours and simply could not give the necessary care and interaction to his or her child, wouldn't mandated joint custody be more harmful to the child than currently established laws?

On the other end of the spectrum is the antiquated nature of the current law. The new proposal is lauded by father's rights groups because, they say, often the mother gets a lion's share of the to-be-determined 50% custody time. In addition, many professionals say that a child develops in a healthier manner when both parents are actively involved in their life.

The Senate version of the bill has different language, allotting 40% to each parent up front with the remaining 20% to be determined by a judge. That version is under consideration in the current legislative session.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, "What's in a number? Minnesota's shared custody debate...," Jeremy Olson, Mar. 29, 2012

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