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Governor vetoes Minnesota child custody law

Advocates from around Minnesota picketed outside Governor Dayton's office last month to show their support or opposition to a controversial bill that would have changed state child custody laws. The bill was passed by both houses of the Minnesota Legislature and would have increased the amount of time that each parent is entitled to with their kids. The current minimum is 25 percent of the time, and the bill would have increased that to 35 percent.

Governor Dayton vetoed the bill amidst compelling arguments from the opposition, which included a section of the Minnesota Bar Association and battered women's advocates. The bill would have had the greatest effect on couples who would not agree with each other, in which case the standards set by the state are used.

Opponents of the measure said that those cases should not involve a higher minimum. Proponents said that the more equal default would help avoid conflict and set the stage for better collaboration. However, state custody law is a complex issue, and it's difficult to know all of the ramifications of a change like this.

"I do think that we want to promote, as a state, healthy ongoing relationships with both parents after divorce," said a dean from William Mitchell College of Law. "That's really important to do, and for many families that's an achievable goal.

The governor said in his letter that accompanied the veto that he would focus on this issue in the 2013 session, adding that he hoped to produce legislation that would become law on the issue.

Source: MPR News, "Dayton vetoes bill that would have given divorced parents more presumed custody," Sasha Aslanian, May 24, 2012.

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